February 7, 2018
Congress Continues to Negotiate Funding Legislation, Agreement Remains Elusive
Last month, when members of the House and Senate agreed to end the shutdown and fund the government until February 8, the prevailing thought at that time was that a longer-term agreement was within reach. Unfortunately, at the time of publication of this column, members of Congress appear no closer to resolving their differences than they were before the shutdown occurred. Today it appears almost certain that Congress will pass legislation funding the government until March 22, thereby allowing discussions between congressional leaders and the President to continue.
Whether this cycle of short-term, patchwork funding bills becomes the operating norm moving forward is unclear at this time. What is certain is that President Trump and congressional leaders from both parties continue to have significant difficulty finding a mutually acceptable agreement that would facilitate a long-term bill for the remainder of the fiscal year. Further complicating matters is that Congress has a couple of thorny issues on the horizon. First, it is widely believed that it will need to vote to increase the debt ceiling in early to mid-March in order to prevent the nation from defaulting on its debts. Second, an agreement on immigration measures has proved elusive thus far, and the deadline for addressing that issue is March 4. On that day, any person registered under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program loses their legal protections. Both of these matters deeply divide members and make facilitating compromise challenging.
What this means for us as arts advocates is that we must remain vigilant and must monitor policy developments almost daily. It is particularly important to note as well that the President’s State of the Union speech last week essentially kicks off the appropriations process for the next fiscal year. Soon, congressional committees will be holding hearings on the President’s budget for fiscal year 2019. If Congress does not pass a funding bill soon, we could be in the position of advocating simultaneously for funding in FY2018, where we are urging members of the House and Senate to support the Senate’s funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) of $150 million (matching the current appropriation) while also responding when the President’s FY2019 proposal is released.
As we head into this uncharted territory, I am grateful for all of the hard work and attention you all have devoted over the past year. Every time circumstances have required action, you have answered the call and made a huge difference. After all, we managed to secure an increase in funding for the NEA after President Trump called for its elimination. That speaks to your dedication and the strong, bipartisan support that has been built as a result.
I look forward to working with you in the year ahead!
In this Issue
From the President and CEO
State to State
Announcements and Resources
Research on Demand
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