August 8, 2018
The Likelihood of an FY2019 NEA Funding Increase
As we reported last week, the Senate passed legislation that would increase the appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) by $2 million, to $155 million, for fiscal year 2019. That action matched that of the House of Representatives, which voted for the same earlier this summer.
While these moves put the NEA in excellent shape, extenuating circumstances could impede the ability of Congress to complete its appropriations process before current funding expires on September 30. The first potential barrier is contentious policy issues. With the House and Senate each having passed its own Interior Appropriations bill, with agreement on funding for the NEA, members of Congress next go to conference to negotiate the differences between the two bills. Most significant is that, while the Senate’s bill is considered “clean,” meaning it doesn’t include any language impacting policy, the House’s version includes provisions that if enacted would drastically reshape the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department to regulate pollution. The inclusion of these, which are opposed in the Senate by Democrats and some Republicans, means that the House would have to relent and remove them if there is any chance of enacting the bill before September 30.
Secondly, with this being an election year—one that has every member of the House and one-third of the Senate up for reelection—the closer we get to Election Day, the more scrutiny this process receives. Already, the President has floated the idea of shutting the government down. While House and Senate Republican leadership has thus far rejected that notion, that group is not nearly as popular with rank-and-file Republicans in Congress as is the President. If President Trump applies pressure on Congress to create a shutdown, it may be hard to prevent it.
While this is undoubtedly frustrating news to read, it is important context. Fortunately, while Washington continues to be a contentious place, the NEA and the arts generally continue to garner significant bipartisan support that should continue to help us as we weather this complicated period. Particularly in light of the support we’ve received, please, if you haven’t done so, take a moment to reach out to your elected members of Congress and thank them for their support for the arts.
Likewise, I want to thank all of you for your dedication this year. Your responsiveness made a big difference in once again successfully pushing back against a proposed elimination of the NEA.
I hope you’re having a great summer!
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