January 7, 2019
You Can Connect with Congress Despite Shutdown
Last week the new session of Congress, which included 101 new members of the House of Representatives and 10 new senators, was sworn into office. While leaders in both parties have major initiatives, the most immediate issue facing this new crew is an old one. The partial shutdown of the government, which began on December 21, continues, with both sides of the negotiations firmly entrenched in their positions and not indicating any signs of relenting soon.
At issue is whether Congress will meet the President’s request for more than $5 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Until an agreement is reached, it is unlikely that any of the agencies currently without funding, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will have their appropriations bills passed and signed into law. There have been efforts since the new year began to reopen the government, including the passage of legislation in the House of Representatives last week that would fund the NEA at $155 million (an increase of more than $2 million from its current level). But so far the Senate’s Republican leadership and President Trump have refused to support that legislation because it does not, in their view, address border security.
While the shutdown dominates the focus of Congress, other business will go on. This week we should learn the composition of the House and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittees, which have responsibility for setting the NEA’s budget each year. In the House, we expect Betty McCollum (D-MN), the longtime highest ranking Democrat, to become chair this year. In the Senate, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will continue as chair. Both members have been strong voices in support of the Endowment, and we at NASAA look forward to working with Representative McCollum in her new role and to continuing our strong relationship with Senator Murkowski.
NASAA will keep you updated as committee rosters are populated. In the meantime, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your members of Congress to thank them for the bipartisan support that resulted in $2 million in proposed increased funding for the NEA, and to update them on any interesting developments happening within your agency. Whether your state has a new member in Congress or a returning one, it is important, before work on the fiscal year 2020 budget begins, to make contact and establish or reestablish your relationship.
I want to reinforce that while we know that this is a very uncertain time for all of you, NASAA is here to answer any questions you have. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-540-9162.
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