Dec 4, 2023 | Press Releases

Following Santos Expulsion, Nunn Introduces Bill Eliminating Pensions for Expelled Members of Congress

DES MOINES — U.S. Representative Zach Nunn (IA-03) today introduced bipartisan legislation to end pension benefits for Members expelled from Congress. The Congressional Pension Accountability Act – which is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Anthony D’Esposito, Angie Craig (MN-02), and Chris Pappas (NH-01) – ensures that a Member of Congress expelled from the House of Representatives is not able to collect a taxpayer-funded pension based on their Congressional service and revokes any government-funded match made to the Members’ Thrift Savings Plan account, which is the federal government’s equivalent of a 401(k) plan.   
“Thankfully, George Santos won’t be eligible to receive a pension because he didn’t hit the minimum term of service, but this episode exposed a major flaw that needs to be fixed: those who are unfit to serve in Congress are unfit to receive a pension,” Rep. Nunn said. “With the potential that the Senate could soon expel Robert Menendez, this legislation is a common-sense approach to ensure taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the pensions of crooks and con artists.” 

“It’s our job to use taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan bill to revoke retirement benefits for any Member who is expelled from Congress,” Rep. Craig said. “I’ll keep doing my part to get Congress working better for the American people.”  
Under current law, Members of Congress are eligible to receive a pension after five years of civilian federal service. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, passed in 2007, eliminates pensions if the Member of Congress is “full convicted” of certain crimes; however, expelled Members who have not been convicted of one of these crimes are still eligible to receive a pension. Often, the appeals process for these crimes can stretch on for years during which time the expelled Member of Congress continues to receive a pension. 
“Members of Congress whose behavior rises to the high bar set for expulsion, particularly those who have been found to have defrauded their constituents and abused the privileges of their office, shouldn’t be able to retire on the taxpayer’s dime,” Rep. Pappas said. “I’m glad to introduce this legislation alongside Representatives Nunn, Craig, and D’Esposito, and continue our work together to ensure Congress remains accountable to the people.” 
The bipartisan Congressional Pension Accountability Act would close this loophole by ensuring that, if a Member is expelled from Congress, the individual’s years as a Member of Congress do not count towards eligibility or calculation of pension benefits.  While former Representative George Santos, who Rep. Nunn voted to expel on December 1, 2023, is ineligible to receive a pension due to not meeting the five-year requirement, Senator Robert Menendez, who is currently under indictment for accepting bribes from foreign governments, has been in office since 2006. Rep. Nunn has also called on the Senate to expel Senator Menendez. 
Additionally, the federal government provides up to a five percent matching contribution to the Members’ Thrift Savings Plan account, which vests after two years of civilian federal service. The bill would claw back the government match for any member expelled from Congress. 

Text of the bill can be found here.