House Votes against NEA Funding Cuts; Strong Comeback for Arts Advocacy

House Votes against NEA Funding Cuts; Strong Comeback for Arts Advocacy

July 29, 2011
From: Thomas L. Birch, Legislative Counsel
Vol. 26:11

The vote in the House of Representatives on July 28 demonstrated a strong victory for arts advocates intent on gaining legislative support for federal arts funding. The amendment offered by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), a freshman in Congress and a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), would have reduced 2012 appropriations for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to $125 million from the level of $135 million proposed in the bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee. Walberg sponsored a similar amendment last February to bring 2011 NEA funds down to $125 million. That amendment passed by a vote of 217-209. Yesterday’s vote, recorded at 181-240, defeated the Walberg amendment.

This time around, the voting patterns noticeably shifted. Even some of our champions in Congress were surprised at the size of the winning vote. In February, 22 Republicans joined all but three Democrats in voting against the arts funding cut. This week, all Democrats and 55 Republicans voted together to defeat the move to reduce the NEA funds. Conservative Republicans teamed up with moderates from their own party to carry the vote. Almost half the Republicans voting in support of the NEA’s budget and against the Walberg amendment are, like Walberg, freshmen in Congress and RSC members.

Clearly, forces combined to win that outcome. The advocacy of NASAA’s members was strong and engaged. Personal contacts carried the day. Our colleagues in other arts organizations were equally involved through their grass-roots networks. Our bipartisan champions in Congress stood visibly against the proposed funding cut. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), chair of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, had pledged earlier to oppose attempts on the House floor to cut the NEA budget. He was true to his word and his Democratic colleague on the subcommittee, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), was eloquent on the floor in defense of federal arts funding. The cochairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus played major roles during the floor debate. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) organized floor speeches with her colleagues to speak against the Walberg amendment. Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) whipped votes against the amendment from among his Republican colleagues.

Here are the 55 Republicans who voted to hold the line on cuts to the NEA, opposing the Walberg amendment. Each of them deserves special thanks. Please let your representatives know how much you appreciate their position in support of the NEA budget and the important role the funding plays in your state.

Republicans voting against the Walberg amendment (this communication continues below the list):

Rep. Jo Bonner
Rep. Mo Brooks

Rep. Don Young

Rep. Rick Crawford
Rep. Tim Griffin
Rep. Steve Womack

Rep. David Dreier
Rep. Jerry Lewis

Rep. Scott Tipton

Rep. Vern Buchanan
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
Rep. John Mica
Rep. David Rivera
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Rep. Dennis Ross

Rep. Mike Simpson

Rep. Judy Biggert
Rep. Robert Dold
Rep. Aaron Schock

Rep. Harold Rogers
Rep. Ed Whitfield

Rep. Thad McCotter

Rep. Erik Paulsen

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry

New Hampshire
Rep. Charles Bass
Rep. Frank Guinta

New Jersey
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen
Rep. Leonard Lance

New York
Rep. Christopher Gibson
Rep. Mike Grimm
Rep. Richard Hanna
Rep. Nan Hayworth
Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Steve Austria
Rep. Steven LaTourette
Rep. Jean Schmidt
Rep. Steve Stivers
Rep. Patrick Tiberi
Rep. Michael Turner

Rep. Tom Cole

Rep. Greg Walden

Rep. Lou Barletta
Rep. Charles Dent
Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick
Rep. Jim Gerlach
Rep. Patrick Meehan
Rep. Tim Murphy
Rep. Todd Platts
Rep. Glenn Thompson

Rep. Pete Olson

Rep. David Reichert

West Virginia
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito
Rep. David McKinley

Rep. Sean Duffy

Rep. Cynthia Lummis

The House of Representatives plans to continue meeting through the weekend to finish work on the Interior Appropriations Bill—and to produce a plan for raising the debt ceiling—but their work is done on the arts appropriations.

Many thanks again to all of you for your effective advocacy in turning around an important vote on the way to realizing the best possible budget for the NEA in 2012. Please take a moment to express your thanks to your own representatives who stood up in support of funding for the arts.