NASAA Notes: December 2017

December 5, 2017

Congress Works to Pass Tax Reform, Appropriations before Year's End

After months of frustration, Republicans in Congress appear poised to score their first significant legislative victory of the Trump presidency. Late last week, the Senate, on a narrow 51-49 vote, approved legislation revising the tax code. The chamber has now moved to go to conference to negotiate differences within its bill with the version the House passed before Thanksgiving. While there are some provisions that will need to be negotiated, passage by both chambers is expected by the end of the month.

While approval of this bill is a major success for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), there is no question that the effort and focus placed on securing support for the legislation delayed progress on other must-pass bills, such as funding legislation. As a result, at the time of publication of this column, there is no clear agreement in place to support funding for the federal government beyond Friday, December 8.

The challenge Republicans face is that, unlike the tax bill, which could be approved with only GOP votes, Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell need Democratic support to pass appropriations bills. This political reality means that President Trump and congressional leadership must offer Democrats something in return for their votes. With time running out, it does not appear that these discussions have progressed in a substantive way.

What this means for us as ardent supporters of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is that we must remain vigilant and poised to act when the opportunity develops to weigh in with lawmakers. As you know, the House passed its bill funding the NEA at $145 million. While we are grateful for the House’s work on a bipartisan basis to overlook the President’s recommendation of elimination of the agency, we are asking House members to be willing to support the language introduced (but not passed) on the Senate side, which funds the NEA at its current level of $150 million for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.

If you haven’t done so yet, please contact your House delegation and urge that the House support the Senate-introduced number of $150 million. While it is unlikely that Congress can pass anything beyond a short-term continuing resolution by December 8, work is also under way on a longer-term agreement. Therefore, it is important for House members to hear from us that support for the Senate number is recognized and appreciated.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Announcements and Resources

Legislative Update

Research on Demand

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