Joni Ernst Staff Portrait -- updated

(Washington, D.C.) -- U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has reintroduced a bill that aims to cut wasteful spending and place limits on taxpayer-funded benefits for former U.S. Presidents.

"This is a bipartisan bill," Ernst said in an interview with KMA News Thursday morning. "I have a Democratic cosponsor, Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. What this will do is reform the system that provides former presidents with benefits, while saving our hard working Iowans and taxpayers across the nation millions of dollars."

The Red Oak Republican tells KMA News the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2019 would establish a cap on former presidents' monetary allowances, which are currently unlimited.

"Right now former presidents who have left office have unlimited amounts of spending that they can do on taxpayers dimes when it comes to travel, office personnel, office space, phone bills and postage," Ernst said. "The American taxpayers are paying for all of that."

If enacted, the legislation would apply to future former presidents. Current ex-presidents would continue receiving benefits via the existing system. Ernst says the Former Presidents Act has been in major need of modernization.

"Many of our former presidents are literally raking in millions of dollars every year on book deals, speaking engagements, and speaking fees. They are literally making millions," Ernst said. "Yet, we are paying and subsidizing their expenses."

Senator Ernst first introduced the bill in 2015. It passed both the House and Senate, but was later vetoed by then President Barack Obama. The bill most recently passed out of committee in the Senate last Wednesday morning.

Ernst made her comments on KMA's "Morning Line" program late last week.