Ernst offers amendments to Senate budget bill

Joni Ernst From Press Release


U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) this week offered four amendments to the Senate Budget Resolution. The amendments would: Prohibit taxpayer money from paying for first class airfare; Improve mental health care services for veterans; Reform the allowance and perks available to former U.S. Presidents; and Ensure public comments on federal regulations are utilized more effectively.

“These amendments are commonsense reforms that uphold my commitment to Iowans to cut wasteful spending and be vigilant with taxpayer money,” Ernst said. “At a time when our nation is $18 trillion in debt, folks back home expect elected officials to be good stewards of their tax dollars. Examining the frivolous Washington spending from Capitol Hill to former Presidents, reining in burdensome rules and regulations, and ensuring our veterans receive the timely care that they deserve is a start. Rather than repeating the same failed ways of the past several years, now is the time to begin laying the foundation for a better and stronger country that Iowans – and all Americans – deserve.”


Prohibit Taxpayer Money From Paying For First Class Airfare:

To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to prohibit use of taxpayer dollars for first class airplane travel by Members of Congress

  • The American taxpayer deserves that Members of Congress be good stewards of the money they are given, especially at a time when the national debt exceeds $18 trillion.
  • Although there are certain restrictions currently in place, it is important that Congress honor a commitment to spend taxpayer money wisely and not flying first class is just plain common sense.
  • Read the full text of the amendment here.


Improve Mental Health Care Services For Veterans:

To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to improving mental health care services for veterans

  • This amendment improves veterans’ access and choice for mental health care services, including expanding options outside the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • The average wait time for a mental health appointment at the VA is 36 days, while the VA acknowledges there are approximately 22 veteran suicides per day.
  • If a non-VA mental health care professional can reach a veteran one day, one week or even two weeks earlier than 36 days, Congress nor the VA should be an obstacle.
  • Read the full text of the amendment here.

Reform The Allowance And Perks Available To Former U.S. Presidents:

To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to protect taxpayers by reforming the allowance and perks available to former Presidents

  • The Congressional Research Service (CRS), states that former Presidents received a pension just over $200,000 last year.
  • According to POLITICO: “By Election Day 2016, taxpayers will have paid out more than $16 million to fund Bill Clinton’s pension, travel, office expenses and even the salaries and benefits of staff at his family’s foundation, federal records show. Since he left the White House in 2001, Clinton and his office have received more money through the Former Presidents Act than any other ex-president, according to a POLITICO analysis of budget documents.”
  • Former Presidents are allowed “suitable office space, appropriately furnished and equipped” at any location within the United States – CRS indicates that President Clinton has an office space in New York, NY costing $414,380 annually and President G.W. Bush has an office space in Dallas, TX costing $420,506 annually.
  • It is worth reevaluating how much taxpayers should be asked to provide for Presidential allowances and perks when they have generated significant income after leaving office through book sales and paid speeches.
  • This would not target Secret Service or other security protection.
  • Read the full text of the amendment here.


Ensure Public Comments Are Utilized More Effectively:

To establish a deficit neutral reserve fund to ensure public comments are utilized more effectively in the Federal rulemaking process

  • The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires federal agencies to provide notice and must give “interested persons an opportunity” to comment on the proposed rule.
  • There is growing concern and perception that the public’s comments are not being heard or not being considered in the same manner as others who may have larger influence.
  • Farmers, ranchers, utilities, cooperatives, and small business owners are often those most impacted by rules and regulations.
  • This amendment would help ensure all those who submit public comments are heard, and that all comments carry equal weight and equal consideration in the rulemaking process.
  • Read the full text of the amendment here.