NASAA Notes: October 2014

October 1, 2014

Midterm Election Scenarios

Following a very short work period in September, the House and Senate adjourned on September 18 to allow members to return to their home districts and states to ramp up campaign activity. 2014 is an election year, and all 435 members of the House of Representatives, as well as a third (33) of the Senate, are up for reelection.

Historically, the midterm election in a president’s second term is a bad cycle for the chief executive’s party. The Democrats are already significantly in the minority in the House of Representatives and are not expected to seriously challenge the Republicans for control this fall. Leadership of the Senate, however, is very much in question. Democrats currently hold the chamber by a margin of 55-45. There are as many as seven seats currently held by Democrats that are up for reelection: those of Senators Begich (AK), Hagan (NC), Landrieu (LA), Pryor (AR), Shaheen (NH), Udall (CO) and Harkin (IA—open due to retirement). Because the Constitution calls for the vice president to hold the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Republicans would need to hold onto all of their current seats plus win six of the races above to win the Senate.

It is hard to predict what a change in Senate leadership would mean for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and other issues of top priority to NASAA. As you are no doubt aware, Congress, in its current composition, has been unable to agree on significant legislation that impacts the arts, such as a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Should Republicans control both chambers of Congress, they may have aspirations to move significant legislation, but likely will be hampered by the Senate’s filibuster rule, which requires the agreement of at least 60 senators to move a bill to the floor for consideration.

Where a change in Senate leadership could impact the NEA is in its funding level. Until this year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives supported reducing funding for the NEA—in some years drastically, as in fiscal year 2013, when they proposed a cut of $75 million, and in some years significantly, as in FY2012, when they put forth a cut of $14 million. However, during the budget markup for the NEA this year, arts advocates experienced a significant breakthrough when House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) offered an amendment to the NEA’s budget restoring full funding for the agency. As we look to the next Congress, and the potential for both chambers to be controlled by the Republicans, NASAA is optimistic that bipartisan support for the NEA will continue. We nevertheless will fervently continue to make our case for robust funding for the NEA.

We will report following the election about what the new Senate will look like in 2015, and my next column will outline some effective strategies for introducing yourself to members of Congress and staff. Regardless of the overall outcome this fall, come January there will be a lot of new people to meet and educate in Washington!

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

More Notes from NASAA

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand




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