July 9, 2019
House Passes NEA Funding Increase
Late last month, before adjourning for the July Fourth recess, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 227 to 194 legislation that would increase National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) fiscal year 2020 funding from its existing level of $155 million to $167.5 million. While the vote was almost entirely along party lines, the partisan nature of the result is not reflective of the level of support the agency enjoys in the chamber: there is strong support for the NEA from members of both parties. Rather, the narrow passage was due to funding priorities for other agencies included in the bill that broke along party lines.
With the NEA’s appropriation bill passed of the House, the Senate will soon begin consideration with a goal, albeit an ambitious one, to complete passage before Congress adjourns for the summer in late July. Until the Senate Appropriations Committee releases its draft proposal, we won’t know whether there is support for the NEA’s higher appropriation. So now that Congress is back in session, NASAA strongly encourages any members who are represented by a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to contact that office and voice support for funding the NEA at $167.5 million. In doing so, please consider the following talking points:
- Thank the member’s office for their strong support of the National Endowment for the Arts, particularly in recent years as the President has recommended eliminating the agency.
- Urge that the senator support funding the NEA at $167.5 million in FY2020. In doing so, convey that as a result of the federal-state partnership, 40% of all the agency’s grant funding is directed to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations. This unique agreement means that funding to the NEA reaches every state and congressional district in the country.
- Finally, try to relay how the increase in funding could support innovative programming occurring at your agency. Members of Congress and staff appreciate the opportunity to hear how an increase in funding, particularly during these difficult fiscal times, can benefit their communities. So if you know of an interesting arts demonstration or event, invite the senator and their staff to attend. This will help develop your relationship with the senator’s office while also promoting the efficacy of your agency or organization.
Given the deadline the Senate is operating under, we expect news to unfold quickly. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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