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Jones, Massie Take Aim at Perks for Former Speakers

Jones, left, and Massie hold a news conference about a bill they plan to introduce regarding  use of Capitol office space and staff provided to ex-speakers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reps. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., plan to introduce a bill Wednesday to eliminate a perk that allows former speakers to set up a government-funded office with as many as three aides.  

"I’m going out on a limb here, but I think if we could get this bill to the floor that every member of Congress would vote with us to eliminate this program," Massie said.  

"The vehicle for doing that is the omnibus. If they so choose, they could defund this in the omnibus this week, but the probable vehicle is this summer in the appropriations cycle -- Walter and I will offer an amendment,” he added.  

Massie and Jones said they were unaware that former speakers were afforded taxpayer-funded offices after resigning from Congress until Roll Call reported on then-Speaker John A. Boehner's plans for his post-speaker office in November.  

But the pair of conservatives, who voted against Boehner during the January floor vote to re-elect him as speaker, say their bill is not designed to further attack the Ohio Republican.  

Jones said he would have introduced a bill to deauthorize the post-speaker's office 20 years ago if he had known about it then. "It's just as wrong," he said.  

"If this had been Nancy Pelosi, I would've cosponsored the same bill," Massie added.  

But they acknowledge that Boehner is in a position where he personally doesn't need taxpayers to foot the bill for anything he does.  

"John Boehner is a millionaire when he left the speakership and will become more of a millionaire by being a consultant, writing a book, playing a little golf for money – those kinds of things,” Jones said.  

The post-speaker's office was created in 1970 for then-Speaker John W. McCormack before his retirement.  

"He was in his 80s when he stepped down and he was not beholden to special interests like speakers are today,” said Jones, whose father was elected to Congress during McCormack's tenure.  

Although Jones and Massie are not members of the House Freedom Caucus, they expect many members of that conservative group to co-sponsor their bill. But Jones also predicts Democrats would support the measure, too.  

"We'll see where it goes," Jones said. "But Thomas is right. Our best opportunity probably is to make our stand now and be very hopeful  that in the spring, summer time frame with the appropriations bills we can offer an amendment and take it out."

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