NASAA Notes: December 2019

December 2, 2019

Congress Aims to Pass Funding Bills before Holiday Break

Members of the House and Senate came back to Washington this week for what is expected to be a busy and contentious work period. Current funding for the federal government is set to expire in less than three weeks (December 20), and while members of both parties are motivated to resolve differences and pass fiscal year 2020 appropriation bills under regular order, much work remains. Further complicating these negotiations is the impeachment process, which is expected to dominate the headlines and the attention of members of Congress.

In terms of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, we continue to hear that discussions between the House and Senate on the agency’s funding are progressing. As you’ll recall, the House passed a funding level of $167.5 million for the Arts Endowment, an increase of $12.5 million over its current level, while the Senate approved a $2 million increase. Since then, the chambers have been working to find a middle ground. As usual, complicating matters for the Endowment is that its funding happens to be situated within the same bill that appropriates funding and policy directives for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interior Department. With oversight of several of the more divisive issues between the parties, these two agencies have become lightning rods in the current environment, with the Democrat-led House strongly opposed to the actions taken by the Trump administration at both agencies.

This disagreement is important because, if a compromise cannot be reached, the House and Senate would have to pass another continuing resolution to fund all the agencies within that bill, including the Arts Endowment, regardless of whether any issues remain between parties over EPA and Interior. That would mean that Endowment would continue to be funded at its current level of $155 million until a deal on the entire bill is reached.

Hopefully, such a deal will be struck over the next few weeks. In the meantime, we at NASAA will continue to keep you apprised as the negotiations continue.

In this final Legislative Update column of 2019, I would like to thank you all for being so diligent in responding to NASAA’s requests for action. I continue to hear from congressional staff that the strong relationships you are building are vital in helping them and their bosses understand why increasing funding for the National Endowment for the Arts is so critically important.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Announcements and Resources

Legislative Update

More Notes from NASAA

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