February 1, 2023
NEA's Prospects in New Congress
The new congressional term got off to an eventful start in January, as the country witnessed the House Republican Caucus debate, and ultimately select, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the speaker of the House. While the process didn’t go the way McCarthy had hoped, it was certainly a clear insight into what we might have in store over the next two years. As is often the case when each chamber of Congress is controlled by a different party, Congress isn’t expected to be particularly active, at least with regard to legislation. The discord that seems to exist in Congress, however, could have a significant impact on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and state arts agencies, as it is looking more and more likely that passing traditional appropriations bills will be challenging in this new political environment.
Fortunately for all of us as arts advocates, the leaders of both parties selected to spearhead the committees charged with setting the NEA’s annual budget are seasoned professionals, many of whom have a track record of supporting the agency. The leaders of those committees are:
Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chair
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member
House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
Mike Simpson (R-ID), Chair
Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Ranking Member
The composition of this committee and its leadership are paramount to the success of all of us in increasing federal support for the arts. These members will be in charge of setting the NEA’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and perhaps even more importantly, defending that number behind closed doors, in what looks to be a very difficult fiscal climate. It is also worth noting that these members not only have a track record of support for the arts, but are deeply familiar with the value of the federal-state partnership, which directs 40% of the Endowment’s grant funding to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations.
As always, NASAA will monitor the plans of this new Congress as it begins the FY2024 appropriations process. If you are represented by one of the leaders mentioned above, I encourage you to reach out to their office now to discuss their goals for the upcoming year, and to urge their continued support for the NEA and state arts agencies.
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State to State
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