January 26, 2011
From Thomas L. Birch, Legislative Counsel
House Republican Caucus Group Proposes NEA Elimination
The House Republican Study Committee (RSC), the most fiscally conservative caucus in the House, has laid out a plan for $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, mainly by holding 2011 funds at 2008 levels, and then in 2012 through 2021 rolling back all nondefense discretionary spending to 2006 levels, and eliminating spending entirely on more than 100 federal programs. The list includes elimination of funds to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Subsidy, Save America’s Treasures, Community Development Block Grants and the Department of Education’s arts education grants.
The RSC numbers more than 165 Republicans as members, representing a sizable group in the new Republican majority intent on following through on a pledge to reduce spending. Still, enacting the proposal would be next to impossible, given that Senate Democrats have called for more modest spending restraint, and the White House would oppose many of the cuts as well. With the likes of the NEA and CPB on the list, however, the proposal sets the stage for some serious challenges on the House floor this year as spending bills emerge from the Appropriations Committee.
There is no indication that the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), would back the RSC plan, although he has announced his intention to begin scaling back nonsecurity discretionary spending to fiscal 2008 levels this year, replacing the current stopgap measure with another continuing resolution that would cut spending. Rogers is not a member of the RSC, nor is Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), who chairs the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the NEA and has been a strong voice in the past for federal arts funding.
The RSC chair, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), has drafted the Spending Reduction Act of 2011, embodying the budget cutting plan of the caucus. Many of the programs proposed for elimination have long been on the wish list for budget hawks to cut, such as Title X birth control and family planning grants, the Legal Services Corporation, and funds for the U.S. Agency for International Development. There are also any number of President Obama’s initiatives on the list, such as the programs of the National and Community Services Act and the Department of Energy’s work on fuel efficient cars.
At NASAA we are working with our champions in the House on both sides of the aisle who will stand up for our position if and when these proposals come to the fore. Be assured that we will keep you informed as events unfold in this session of the new 112th Congress. NASAA offers these resources to help you stay abreast of developments and make the case for public support of the arts: