SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, may not be running for re-election, but he's still going after presidential pensions following former President Barack Obama's $400,000 deal with a Wall Street firm for giving a speech.
Chaffetz tweeted a link to a story in USA Today on Wednesday that quotes him saying Obama's "hypocrisy on this issue is revealing" and calling his 2016 veto of a bill capping expenses for former presidents "very self-serving."
In the tweet, Chaffetz refers to the story's headline, "Obama's $400,000 speech could prompt Congress to go after his pension," with a picture of a smiling Obama, and responds, "Yes, it will."
By the end of May, Chaffetz is expected to re-introduce what was known as the Presidential Allowance Modification Act to limit presidential pensions and expenses at $200,000 each, but reducing the payments once income exceeds $400,000.
When the bill first passed in 2016 with bipartisan support, Chaffetz said it "updates an outdated law and saves taxpayers money. Upon leaving office, most presidents go on to make millions of dollars and are not in need of taxpayer subsidies."
According to a 2016 Congressional Research Service report, former President Jimmy Carter had the smallest pension and benefits package in 2015, at $430,000, while former President George W. Bush had the largest, at nearly $1.1 million.
Obama, who pushed for reforms of the financial industry, has been criticized by the right and the left over reports he has accepted $400,000 to speak at a September health care conference by Wall Street investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee since January 2015, Chaffetz repeatedly took on the Obama administration but has been seen as much less interested in targeting GOP President Donald Trump.
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said this time around, the effort to limit presidential pensions is more likely to be seen as a partisan attack, especially since it's coming from Chaffetz.
"It is a little odd as a priority," Burbank said, noting that past presidents typically make big money giving speeches. The bill "now seems to be targeted at Obama. I expect there will be much more resistance from Democrats this time around."
He said it's not clear how far the bill will go before Chaffetz leaves office.
Utah officials who are looking at the possibility that a special election will be needed to fill his 3rd District seat say there's talk that Chaffetz could announce his plans before Memorial Day and depart as early as June.