NASAA Notes: October 2023

October 4, 2023

What the Surprises from Congress Mean for Arts Advocates

When working in Washington, and specifically with Congress, one expects many twists and turns—but last weekend was one of the most remarkable in my time in politics. As of Saturday morning, September 30, a government shutdown looked all but certain. Federal funding was set to expire at midnight, and the primary negotiators of a deal, House Republican leadership and Senate Democratic leadership, were very far apart on its contours. However, in a striking reversal, leaders from both parties were able to come together. Thanks to overwhelmingly bipartisan votes in both chambers of Congress that extended current funding until November 17 through a continuing resolution, a shutdown was averted, at least for the time being.

The obvious question is, what happens now? Frankly, it is hard to tell. Normally when a continuing resolution is passed, it is done to allow negotiators time to work on a more permanent agreement. However this time, House Republicans immediately took a vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker to due to the deal he reached with Democrats. As a result, the chamber is left without a leader, and this process will need to play itself out before any work can be done on a full-year spending package. The reason for this is that if Republicans decide to appoint an ally of McCarthy, that member may feel emboldened and have more leeway to cut deals with Democrats moving forward. This would certainly pave the way for a spending bill to pass this fall. Should a more conservative member be selected, that person may be in a position where they are forbidden from making such a compromise. If that should occur, the prospect of a shutdown in November increases significantly.

At NASAA, it is important for our work to remain outside of this polarizing voting process. We must focus on continuing to meet with members of Congress from both parties to keep them up to date about events happening in their districts (and states), and how funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is integral. We will continue to urge Congress to maintain funding for the agency at $207 million (the figure contained within the continuing resolution) and to support the federal-state partnership, which directs 40% of NEA program dollars to state and jurisdictional arts agencies and regional arts organizations.

We continue to urge all of you to do the same. However, we also encourage you to trust your instincts regarding the timing of this interaction. This is a very tense period of time in Washington, and if your elected officials are in the middle of the political controversy, it may, understandably, be prudent to wait until the dust settles (hopefully soon). If you are unsure about whether the timing is right to engage, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

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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