The recent siege of the United States Capitol by pro-Trump supporters has lodged another impeachment motion against President Trump. The insurrection incited by Trump when he invited his supporters to D.C. occurred on January 6 while lawmakers were in the midst of certifying the election results.
If impeached successfully (and convicted), Trump will lose his post-presidential perks allowed through the 1958 Former Presidents Act.
In order to “maintain the dignity” of the President, the Former Presidents Act ensures that all past presidents are guaranteed pensions and perks for the rest of their lives. Former presidents are given an annual pension, access to health insurance, boundless Secret Service protection, and an office space with staffing allowances. Widowed wives of former presidents also qualify for a yearly pension of $20,000. Only presidents that have been removed from office are ineligible to the benefits of the Former Presidents Act.
According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), retired presidents are entitled to the following federal benefits:
- An Annual Pension: The amount varies slightly for every president as the years go on, but it is estimated this year to be at $219,000.
- Access to Health Care: Any president enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program for a minimum of five years is guaranteed access to health insurance. However, single-term presidents that do not hold another federal position are ineligible for health coverage.
- Lifetime Secret Service Protection: Former presidents are eligible for Secret Service protection for the rest of their lives. The budget information to protect former presidents remains classified; but considering that Trump’s four trips to Mar-a-Lago cost taxpayers roughly $13.6 million in Secret Service protection, the budget is seemingly inconceivable. It should be noted that due to a provision signed in 2013 by President Obama, all former presidents, their spouses, and children (until their 16th birthday) are entitled to Secret Service protection even if they were impeached. This is the only exception in the Former Presidents Act, but impeached presidents are barred from all other benefits.
- Office and Staffing Allowance: Six months after a former president leaves office, they are entitled to funding provided by the General Services Administration (GSA) that covers an official office space, furnishings, and staffing.
- Reimbursement of Travel Expenses: Retired presidents are reimbursed for up to $1 million a year in travel expenses for Chief Executives and up to two staff members. Spouses of former presidents also qualify to be reimbursed for up to $500,000 annually for official travel and security expenses.
- Fully Paid Funeral: Former presidents are guaranteed a ceremony with full honors as well as the option to be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. However, because most presidents choose to be buried in their home states, you will only find two former presidents buried at the Arlington National Cemetery—William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy.
The insurrection that occurred in the nation’s capital on January 6 left the rest of the country (and the world) in shock. Even Pope Francis was ‘astonished’ by last Wednesday’s events. With just days away from Inauguration day, House Democrats are determined to push an impeachment motion (for the second time). Committing treason and inciting an attack on Congress and the U.S. Capitol is surely enough to impeach any president, but Trump’s acquittal by the Senate for his previous impeachment trial in early 2020 doesn’t leave many holding their breath.