NASAA Notes: September 2017

September
2017

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Isaac Brown

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September 7, 2017

Congress Agrees on Spending Plan

The House and Senate returned from the August recess to a full plate of legislative must-dos. At the forefront, of course, was passing legislation to fund the recovery effort from Hurricane Harvey. Also pressing were legislation funding the federal government (with current allocations set to expire at the end of the month) and a bill to raise the federal government’s debt limit (which had to happen before September 30 as well).

While most expected negotiations to be intense and up-to-the-last-minute, President Trump and congressional leaders met on September 6 and unexpectedly emerged with the contours of a deal, which came to fruition. At publication, President Trump was expected to sign legislation providing $8 billion to support the hurricane recovery, a three-month approval for the Treasury Department to increase its debt limit and a three-month continuing resolution that funds all government agencies at their current levels.

What this means for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the short term is good news. Although funding for the agency has not passed in either chamber yet, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would reduce its funding by $5 million (from $150 million to $145 million). However, by passing a three-month continuing resolution, the NEA will be able to continue operating at its current funding level until December 8, rather than having to absorb the House’s proposed cut.

What will happen after December 8 is unclear. In terms of the process, the House of Representatives could hold a vote on the Interior Appropriations bill (which includes the NEA’s budget) next week; the Senate Interior Appropriations bill is expected to be released next week as well. It is our hope that the Senate committee, which has heard from a significant number of state arts agencies about how the House’s proposal would be negatively impactful, will consider level funding or a small reduction. When that bill is introduced, NASAA will be in touch with an alert to inform you of their proposal and how we can best influence the process moving forward.

As the events of this week demonstrate, policy continues to move in unexpected ways. What continues to remain constant, however, is strong bipartisan support for the National Endowment for the Arts and the federal-state partnership.

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