NASAA Notes: May 2018

May 2, 2018

Congress Gears Up for Appropriations Push

Following a busy work period that included passing a large federal spending package that increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to $153 million, members of the House and Senate are currently out of session and are spending time in their districts. When they return on Monday, members of both chambers are expected to begin working in earnest toward legislation that will fund the federal government for fiscal year 2019. (The agreement reached last month was for the remainder of FY2018.)

In doing so, members of the House and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittees (which have jurisdiction over the NEA’s budget) face an uphill battle. Passing the omnibus bill last month was a significant accomplishment, but in doing so, legislators had to delay working on the FY2019 bill and now find themselves with a limited number of work weeks left. For context, in a normal year, the House Interior Subcommittee usually releases its proposed budget for the NEA and other federal agencies in its purview in late April and holds a hearing to consider that legislation soon thereafter. With public comments on the NEA’s budget not even due to the committee until May 18, we will not see the proposed budget for the agency until the week of Memorial Day at the earliest.

Unlike in years past, when there was sufficient time between when the bill was released and when it was voted upon, we expect the tight time frame under which members will be working to make responding within that window almost impossible. Therefore, the time to reach out to members of Congress and staff on the Committee is right now. If you are represented by a member of either the House or Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, please contact them and make the following points:

  • Thank the member for supporting increases in funding for the NEA. Since January 2017, the agency’s budget has increased from $148 million to $153 million, all while under threat of elimination from the Trump administration.
  • Urge the committee to support another increase in funding for the NEA, to $155 million, for FY2019.
  • While making the request, take the opportunity to highlight new developments at your agency and remind the member’s staff that 40% of all grant funding appropriated to the NEA goes directly to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations.

At a briefing hosted by NASAA last month in the Capitol to highlight the impact funding for the arts has on the U.S. economy, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, reiterated her hope that Congress will once again be able to support an increase in funding for the NEA. We sincerely appreciate the senator’s hard work on our behalf. It is now our responsibility as arts advocates to reach as many offices as we can to continue to build support for the NEA so that our champions in Congress, like Senator Murkowski, have the backing they need to convince their colleagues.

If you need any assistance in reaching out to your members of Congress, please do not hesitate to let me know. I sincerely thank all of you for your hard work on behalf of the NEA and the federal-state partnership, and I look forward to working with you again over the next few months as the appropriations season heats up.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA

Research on Demand




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