On March 27, 2018, President Trump signed the Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting Act.
The bill, also referred to as the Ego Act, prohibits using federal funds to pay for paintings of federal employees and representatives, including the president and vice president.
The portraits most likely to be affected are those of former members of Congress and other high ranking federal officials. These portraits can be seen in the halls of Congress and other federal buildings. Portraits of the president and vice president are generally paid for out of private donations. The walls of most committee rooms usually are covered with paintings of past lawmakers who once chaired the committee.
According to the National Portrait Gallery, presidential portraits dating back to George H.W. Bush in 1994 has also been paid for with private donations.
What triggered the legislation was a report that since 2010, agencies had spent more than $400,000 on portraits that are displayed within agency buildings. The paintings were sometimes placed in secure locations that are not open to the public.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has argued against using money for this purpose for a number of years. He has inserted a ban into congressional budget bills since 2014 when he was a congressman. After President Trump signed the bill into law, Senator Cassidy sent out this tweet:
Thanks @realDonaldTrump for signing the Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting (EGO) Act into law. I came to Congress to cut wasteful spending. Our debt is over $20 trillion. There’s no excuse for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on paintings of government officials.
— Bill Cassidy (@BillCassidy) March 28, 2018