NASAA Notes: September 2020


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Isaac Brown

September issue
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September 2, 2020

CR in Forecast as Congress Deals with COVID-19 Impasse

When members of the House of Representatives and Senate return to D.C. following their August recess, they do so with seemingly more questions than answers about the pathway forward on many key issues facing Congress. First and foremost, of course, is the ongoing federal response to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, and the resulting economic hardships it has created. As we reported last month, members of Congress discussed, but ultimately were unable to agree upon, a funding package that would provide financial support for communities hard hit by the economic slowdown, as well as further resources for testing, vaccine development and contact tracing. With members set to return over the next two weeks, the delta between the parties seems as great as at any time during this crisis, and that will make negotiating an agreement difficult.

This impasse is critical in a number of ways. First, of course, is that we hope Congress can find a way to agree on a package that supports communities in need. In addition, with Congress expected to be in session for only a few weeks before adjourning until after November’s election, the stalemate will dominate focus and take time away from other pressing matters.

One result is that work on appropriations bills may need to be delayed until after the election. As you know, the House in July passed legislation funding the National Endowment for the Arts at $170 million for fiscal year 2021, an increase of $7.5 million over its current funding level. While we are thrilled and appreciative of this support, we also recognize that there is much work to do. Our hope is that the Senate is able to take steps toward passing its bill this month. However, we expect the Senate wait until after the election to complete this work, and meanwhile work with the House on a continuing resolution that would fund the Arts Endowment and all other federal agencies at their current levels until sometime in December. While this outcome would certainly be preferable to a government shutdown, it nonetheless would be disappointing, particularly given the setbacks states are facing due to revenue shortfalls.

In the weeks ahead, NASAA will certainly keep you apprised of any developments in Congress. Specifically, if it appears that the Senate may consider funding for the Endowment this month, we will absolutely let you know when and how best to engage your senators.

I realize that this column reaches many of you during a time of extraordinary stress. I want to thank you for all of your hard work, and I hope that we can work together under brighter circumstances soon.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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