Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa announced on Tuesday her plans to introduce what she calls the 'Squeal’ Act to cut expenditures for lawmakers. On Fox News, Ernst said, “It is the Stop Questionable, Unnecessary and Excessive Allowances for Legislators Act. There exists on the books a tax deduction, specifically for members of Congress. They can deduct up to $3,000 dollars of expenses from their taxes. Regular people out there can’t apply for this, only legislators.”
The Iowa Republican said, “So we’re fulfilling the commitment that I made to my citizens. Let’s get rid of it. That’s what the Squeal Act does. It brings us into parity with the citizens that we represent.”
In a 2014 campaign ad, Ernst said that she knew how to cut out "pork" spending because she had castrated hogs on her farm. In the ad, Ernst said she would “make ‘em squeal,” in a reference to Washington’s “big spenders.”
In a statement that appeared on her Senate website, Ernst stated, “Iowans sent me to Congress to make Washington, D.C. squeal and that includes eliminating handouts to politicians,” said Senator Ernst. “To achieve the ultimate goal of lowering tax rates for hardworking families and businesses, Congress is going to have to eliminate various loopholes and deductions in our outdated tax code. Congress should lead by example and offer up its own unnecessary tax break.”
About the SQUEAL Act
Ernst's website states:
"The Code of Federal Regulations defines living-expenses as meals, lodging, and other incidental expenses. Under our current tax code, taxpayers are allowed to claim business-expense deductions for unreimbursed travel expenses incurred while they are away from their principal place of business (“home”). For the purposes of this deduction, a Member of Congress’ “home” is the state or district they represent – not Washington, D.C. where they work."
"Due to this loophole, legislators are allowed to claim deductions for their living-expenses while working in Washington, D.C., even though they spend a significant amount of time working there. Senator Ernst’s SQUEAL Act eliminates the provision of the tax code that allows Members of Congress to deduct up to $3,000 in D.C.-based living expenses from their income taxes per year."
Read the full text of the SQUEAL Act here.