Yesterday afternoon, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies approved a bill that would provide $145 million each for the NEH and the NEA in FY 2018. While this is a $4.8 million reduction from the FY 2017 levels, we read this number as the subcommittee’s strong rejection of the president’s proposal to defund the Endowments.
In comparison to this 3.2% funding cut for the NEH and the NEA, the Interior bill reduces spending as a whole by 2.6% from FY 2017 in order to adhere to the FY 2018 budget caps. This makes the reduction to the NEH and the NEA fairly proportional to the overall reductions. The Woodrow Wilson Center, meanwhile, would receive $10 million in funding, which is a $500,000 or 4.7% cut from FY 2017 levels. Other programs and agencies funded by the same bill are facing much more severe cuts; the EPA, for example, would see a 6.5% reduction.
We are grateful for the subcommittee’s support, but we remain concerned that an amendment reducing funding for the NEH could be proposed in the full committee markup. Should that happen, we will reach out to our advocates in appropriators’ districts asking them to call their Members of Congress. If the bill does make it to the House floor, we will issue a broader action alert asking all of our advocates to contact their Members of Congress and reaffirm their support for the NEH. In addition, we still await draft numbers from the Senate.
As the appropriations process continues, we will also continue to advocate that the proposed funding cut for the NEH not only be reversed, but that the NEH’s budget be increased to our requested amount of $155 million. Congress is currently operating under the confines of low budget caps for FY 2018. If those caps are renegotiated to accommodate the majority’s funding priorities, supporters of the NEH might be able to push through level funding or an increase in final legislation.
The appropriations process is still in its early stages and we will continue to issue updates when urgent action is needed. In the meantime, visit our Take Action page for multiple options for supporting the NEH.