NASAA Notes: March 2021

March 3, 2021

Anticipating Arts Support in Federal Emergency Bill and FY2022 Budget

At the time of writing this column, Congress and the Biden administration are in the midst of negotiating a $1.9 trillion emergency relief package that they hope to pass no later than the middle of March, when many of the emergency programs extended in the December relief bill are set to expire.

While the plan before them is ambitious, the negotiations are understandably complicated as the package, if passed, would be the second-largest stimulus bill ever passed by Congress, second only to the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act. Further complicating matters is that thus far, no Senate Republicans have come out in support (and no House Republicans voted in favor when the bill passed the House at the end of February), and the narrow margins Democrats hold in each chamber leave no margin for error.

Although the situation is very fluid, here is what we know the package includes at this time:

  • $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, and explicit support for the federal-state partnership
  • an additional $1.35 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program
  • extension of pandemic unemployment insurance until August 29
  • stimulus checks to individuals earning up to $75,000 a year, and couples earning $150,000

Another provision that had been central to the bill was the proposal to raise the minimum wage, nationally, to $15 an hour. This provision was highly contentious but was ultimately struck by the Senate parliamentarian, who viewed that its inclusion violates the Byrd Rule, a federal statute that applies strict limitations on what can be included in a reconciliation bill.

As work on this bill continues, it is important to note is that the funding included in this bill for the Arts Endowment is considered an emergency supplemental appropriation and will not impact the fiscal year 2022 process, which has not begun yet. We expect work on that bill to begin in earnest in the next few weeks, when President Biden is expected to deliver his first remarks to Congress.

NASAA and our partners at other arts service organizations will be watching closely to see what the Biden administration recommends to Congress for funding for the Arts Endowment in its first budget. This will be a critical piece of information that will inform our ask to Congress for the year. Certainly, we will be asking for an increase, but the level of increase will be informed by the administration’s preference.

I’d expect that recommendation in the next few weeks, and then we will be off to the races, pursuing a broad and ambitious agenda to support federal funding for the arts in the FY2022 budget.

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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