U.S. Senate approves legislation for the first time in six years to level fund the National Endowment for the Arts

It’s been a fast-paced appropriations season so far! Today, the U.S. Senate approved legislation (for the first time in six years!) in subcommittee to level fund the National Endowment for the Arts.
 
The U.S. House also kept its pace for rapid consideration, approving its NEA funding bill in full committee today as well. Tomorrow, the bill that funds the federal museum agency and arts education is on tap for consideration (first time in three years!) in another House subcommittee. And on Thursday, the Senate returns to consider its bill to fund the NEA in full committee.
 
Despite the substantial effort in Congress to advance bills in a timely way, the Administration last night issued a veto threat to the bill because of its numerous policy riders, thwarting any expected advancement.
 
What you need to know
 
Last week, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved a bill providing sustained funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. All the cultural institutions, like the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution, also were proposed at level funding.
 
Today, the full committee reported out this legislation on a 30-21 vote, enabling it to next be considered on the House floor.

During full committee consideration, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) offered an amendment to boost funding for both the NEA and the NEH to the President’s request. This is roughly a $2 million increase to $148 million. Although his amendment did not receive a vote, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), David Price (D-NC), and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) all spoke favorably on his amendment. Rep. Pingree noted the work of the Maine Humanities Council in her district; Rep. Israel spoke about Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, a publication of the NEA. A writer himself, Rep. Israel shared his interest to scale up healing arts therapy work with veterans going forward and in more areas across the country. Rep. Price shared with his colleagues another publication, the Heart of the Matter, tucking it in also as recommended reading. Rep. Price also shared with all appropriators that NEA and NEH are funded well below their historical levels. He compared funds to 1992 and said with just inflation, we’d be investing nearly double had we just retained those levels. You can watch today’s proceedings at this webcast link in which Rep. Israel's amendment can be found at the 2:57 timestamp.

The Senate subcommittee also considered their version today. Both NEA and NEH are also proposed for level funding. The subcommittee’s statement can be found here. The full committee will consider the bill on Thursday.

What's next
 
House floor votes could occur as soon as the last week in June, prior to the 4th of July congressional recess. As the process moves forward, the NEA and other cultural agencies may be prime targets for proposed cuts, if history is any lesson. We will keep you posted on any harmful amendments as the bills head toward the House or Senate floor.

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