NASAA Notes: December 2014

December 10, 2014

Reach Out to New Legislators

Following a tense week of negotiations, the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate were able to agree on legislation last weekend that funds all federal agencies except for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the remainder of fiscal year 2015. (DHS received a three-month extension of funding.) That vote, which relied upon support from moderates from both parties to pass, concluded on a high note after what had been one of the least productive work periods in congressional history. Significant issues such as education reform and immigration reform, both expected to be dealt with during the Congress’s session, stalled due to an inability of the parties to agree on a framework for compromise.

While it is unclear at this time what the main areas of focus will be when Congress returns in January, we do know for certain that the composition of both chambers will change—dramatically. The Senate, which Democrats controlled comfortably, will switch hands as Republicans secured a significant victory at the ballot box in November. As a result, when the chamber returns to work in January, the GOP will run the Senate for the first time since 2006. In fact, there will be as many as 12 new senators:

  • Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)*
  • Tom Cotton (R-AR)*
  • Steve Daines (R-MT)*
  • Joni Ersnt (R-IA)*
  • Cory Gardner (R-CO)*
  • James Lankford (R-OK)
  • David Purdue (R-GA)
  • Gary Peters (D-MI)
  • Mike Rounds (R-SD)*
  • Ben Sasse (R-NE)
  • Dan Sullivan (R-AK)*
  • Thom Tillis (R-NC)*

* denotes a change of party

In the House of Representatives, Republicans already had a majority of seats, but were able in last month’s election to expand their margin to 247-188, the party’s highest number of seats since 1948.

While it is unclear what this change in leadership will mean with regard to policy, we as arts advocates have a lot of new members of Congress to educate about the value of supporting the arts, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the important role state arts agencies play in setting policy. If you are represented by a new House or Senate member, I strongly encourage you to reach out to that newly elected official once he or she is sworn into office in January and do the following:

  1. Congratulate them on their election.
  2. Introduce yourself and your state arts agency and let them know that support for the NEA will directly support that agency.
  3. If you plan to be in Washington, D.C., in the upcoming year, either for Arts Advocacy Day or other travel, please let the legislator’s office know. It takes time and effort to cultivate a working relationship with any congressional office, so reaching out as soon as possible is very helpful.

It is equally important for our members to make contact with returning members of the House and Senate. After many years of challenges, we saw a noticeable shift in how the NEA was viewed by Congress—particularly by the House of Representatives, which in 2014 supported level funding, rather than a reduction, for the NEA for the first time since FY2010. We want to build on that momentum in the coming year while also expanding our potential influence in other areas important to arts advocates, such as education reform.

I’d like to conclude by thanking all of you for a great year. I am always so grateful, and truly impressed, by how sophisticated NASAA’s membership is, and how willing you all are to get involved. It truly makes a difference. I look forward to continuing to work with you in the New Year.

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

More Notes from NASAA

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand




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