March 19, 2019
From: Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel
A week after releasing a shortened version, President Trump sent his full budget recommendation to Congress yesterday. The document outlines his Administration’s funding and policy priorities for fiscal year 2020. Unfortunately, the Administration once again calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. While we are very disappointed that the President has put forth this proposal, there are several important factors to keep in mind. First, the recommendation is in no way binding, but rather a statement about the direction the Administration would like Congress to undertake. Secondly, Congress—and not the executive branch—has the Constitutional authority to set funding levels for federal agencies. And last, while not taking anything for granted, we expect Congress to continue to show unwavering bipartisan support for the Endowment in light of the President’s position. This is the third consecutive year that the President has urged Congress to eliminate funding for the agency, and in each previous iteration, members of the House and Senate demonstrated their opposition.
Congress is out of session this week, but when it returns next week, members are expected to continue working on legislation funding federal agencies for fiscal year 2020. Therefore, if you haven’t done so already, please contact your members of Congress and urge them not only to oppose the President’s proposed elimination, but also to support funding the agency at $167.5 million. In doing so, it is always important to thank members for Congress’s previous support. Also, in asking for a funding increase, please consider mentioning the federal-state partnership that allocates 40 percent of the NEA’s grant funding to state-and-regional arts organizations. This arrangement is unparalleled and ensures that every Congressional district in the country receives funding from the NEA through a direct grant or their state arts agency.