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senate Bill S. 188

Preventing Tax Dollars From Being Spent on Paintings of Federal Officials and Employees

Argument in favor

There are a lot of priorities that Americans are willing to see their tax dollars fund, but portraits of federal employees that cost tens of thousands of dollars aren’t among them.

Nick's Opinion
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04/01/2017
Just want to clarify, voting yay means it should be prohibited. Voting nay means it should not be prohibited. Check your votes to make sure you voted the way you wanted to.
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SouthernGal's Opinion
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04/01/2017
The current crop of people in this administration do not deserve to be remembered except for their misdeeds to the American people. Name a jail cell for them and lock them up.
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TheGhost's Opinion
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04/01/2017
Good Lord I can't even believe this is up for debate...
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Argument opposed

For the sake of posterity, the federal government should commission paintings of key officials like the president and members of Congress so that future generations know of them.

Ashley's Opinion
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04/01/2017
Whether you support who's in office or not, our national history is important and should be documented. Even the bad parts. (Also, the poor grammar in this question can be misleading - I think you guys would do better to ask questions from a neutral position instead of apparently directing people to the answer you want them to have.)
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Adam's Opinion
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04/01/2017
I get the sentiment of those who feel this is a misuse of public money. However, I object to the fact that the arts are always on the frontline in terms of spending cuts. $20,000-$40,000 is a meager amount of money in the grand scheme of the federal budget, but it is huge for the artist who gets the contract to paint the thing. Maybe there should be guidelines: only artists who fall beneath a certain annual income level or whose assets fall below a similar threshold should be contracted to paint them. But I believe that art is a very important element of society, and I do not believe that public expenditures on the arts are a waste of money, particularly portraits of historical figures or moments. Put a cap on the amount to be spent in each budget for such works and move on.
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Elizabeth's Opinion
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04/01/2017
I keep hearing about how broke the country is. We're suppsedly to poor to feed our elderly and our children. If you want a portrait, send politicians to a portrait studio to get a $200 photo sitting (on their dime). They can get a package with wallet size prints to hand out to their loyal supporters.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedMarch 27th, 2018
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed March 6th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
  • The senate Passed September 18th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 23rd, 2017

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What is Senate Bill S. 188?

This bill — aptly known as the EGO Act — would prohibit federal funds from being used to pay for the painting of a portrait of a federal official or employee, including the president, vice president, members of Congress, the head of an executive agency, or the head of an office of the legislative branch. Such portraits can often cost in the range of $20,000 - $40,000 each.

The bill’s full title is the “Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting Act.”

Impact

Federal employees who would otherwise have had a portrait painted of them; painters.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 188

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced this bill to prevent the federal government from spending Americans’ tax dollars on paintings of federal employees:

“When America is trillions of dollars in debt, we should take every reasonable measure to reduce the burden passed on to our children and grandchildren. Tax dollars should go to building roads and improving schools — not oil paintings that very few people ever see or care about. Congress has passed the EGO Act before, let’s pass it again.”

The bill’s lone Democratic cosponsor, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, offered the following statement in support of the bill:

“I’d encourage anyone who’s commissioned a portrait using Missourians’ hard-earned tax dollars to come back to my state with me and ask folks how they feel about it — they’ll get an earful. This bill just says you should pay for your own portraits and not ask taxpayers to foot the bill. I can’t imagine anyone who’d disagree with that.”

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed this bill unanimously. The bill currently has the support of four bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, including three Republicans and one Democrat.

Versions of this legislation were introduced in both the 113th and 114th Congress. While neither iteration of the bill received a vote from either chamber of Congress the Senate HSGAC passed the bill by voice vote in the 114th Congress.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: White House Historical Association / Public Domain)

AKA

EGO Act

Official Title

An act to amend title 31, United States Code, to prohibit the use of Federal funds for the costs of painting portraits of officers and employees of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.

    Just want to clarify, voting yay means it should be prohibited. Voting nay means it should not be prohibited. Check your votes to make sure you voted the way you wanted to.
    Like (457)
    Follow
    Share
    Whether you support who's in office or not, our national history is important and should be documented. Even the bad parts. (Also, the poor grammar in this question can be misleading - I think you guys would do better to ask questions from a neutral position instead of apparently directing people to the answer you want them to have.)
    Like (207)
    Follow
    Share
    The current crop of people in this administration do not deserve to be remembered except for their misdeeds to the American people. Name a jail cell for them and lock them up.
    Like (309)
    Follow
    Share
    Good Lord I can't even believe this is up for debate...
    Like (245)
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    I'd rather spend the money on family planning, protecting the environment, PBS, science and technology, meals on wheels, basic food and shelter for the most vulnerable among us. We are flooded with more than enough images of congress and this president. If they want paintings pay for them out their own pocket.
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    It makes no sense to be spending $20-$40,000 on a portrait in this day and age of photography. Especially not when it's with our tax dollars. Any artist who wishes to make portraits would surely sell for a profit. Vote yea.
    Like (117)
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    I get the sentiment of those who feel this is a misuse of public money. However, I object to the fact that the arts are always on the frontline in terms of spending cuts. $20,000-$40,000 is a meager amount of money in the grand scheme of the federal budget, but it is huge for the artist who gets the contract to paint the thing. Maybe there should be guidelines: only artists who fall beneath a certain annual income level or whose assets fall below a similar threshold should be contracted to paint them. But I believe that art is a very important element of society, and I do not believe that public expenditures on the arts are a waste of money, particularly portraits of historical figures or moments. Put a cap on the amount to be spent in each budget for such works and move on.
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    Unnecessary use of federal dollars.
    Like (68)
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    It'll be interesting to see the final Countable tally on this. It's obvious by some of the comments that people are confused by the way this is written. In a digital age, these portraits are wasteful & unnecessary. YES, tax dollars should NOT be wasted on these paintings.
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    How about a nice digital photo?
    Like (46)
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    I keep hearing about how broke the country is. We're suppsedly to poor to feed our elderly and our children. If you want a portrait, send politicians to a portrait studio to get a $200 photo sitting (on their dime). They can get a package with wallet size prints to hand out to their loyal supporters.
    Like (38)
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    I'd rather my tax money not be spent on these ridiculous bills. Flint needs clean water, women need healthcare, minorities need to not be killed.
    Like (32)
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    Do we really need a law for this? Really?
    Like (28)
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    Take a picture!
    Like (27)
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    Investment in our nation's cultural heritage is essential to a thriving and thoughtful nation. Investment in the arts is important to our nation. While not as tangible to every citizen as a highway or bridge, paintings of this sort have significance to America's history. Furthermore, eliminating funds of this type are simply a step towards eliminating all funding for any federal arts related investment. A nation without arts is a nation without soul.
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    What an incredible waste of taxpayer money! This is ridiculous. Why is this even something we need to debate??
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    Kudos to Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) for caring about the taxpayers! IMO, the federal officials who want an oil painting of themselves should foot the bill themselves. Y'all's PAYCHECKS come out of our pockets! Why do you also expect us to also pay for your portraits?! Y'all won't even get your act together and start shrinking the size of the federal bureaucracy and balancing the federal budget! You don't seem to consider yourselves "public servants"! Most of you (not all) act as if you're a privileged upper class lording it over the lowly peons you claim to represent! We the People think you spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME on "feel good" bills (that we consider garbage) and fundraising. I'm especially fed up with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and well, just about everyone except the House Freedom Caucus, and I'm a bit miffed at President Trump for essentially threatening the Freedom Caucus for not backing RINO Ryan's health scam, I mean "plan"! So no, many of you haven't exactly earned the respect of us lowly peasants. If you'd KEEP YOUR PROMISES TO THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR YOU, we might feel differently about paying for your portraits!
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    This is not a big deal.
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    Photographs are cheaper.
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    20-40k is chump change. And regardless of who is in office, this tradition should stand, not to mention it supports the arts (or an artist) even if 45 spends his term gutting funding for similar programs (oh irony). But really, Bill Cassidy should be putting his weight behind more important issues, like our tax dollars being spent to aid Trump + family business efforts, which is already skyrocketing into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and likely reach millions before Trump leaves office.
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