Last week, more than 200 humanists gathered for the NHA Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. This event brings together humanities faculty, administrators, and professionals from scholarly societies, museums, and libraries to explore best practices in humanities advocacy and to advocate on Capitol Hill for federally funded humanities programs.
This morning, President Trump released his Presidential Budget Request, which again calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, along with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Education’s International Education Programs, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Institute for Museums and Library Services, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.
With votes in the Senate last night and in the House this afternoon, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has passed through Congress and will now go to the President's desk to be signed into law. The final bill did NOT include the provision from the House version that would have designated tuition waivers for graduate students as taxable income. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of graduate studies over the last few weeks; your voices were critical to ensuring that these waivers did not make it into the final bill.
Yesterday afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee released two bills that propose boosts or level funding for a variety of humanities programs. The 2018 bill funding the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies included appropriations for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, both of which were funded at $149.8. This is the same funding level the NEH and the NEA received for FY 2017, and it represents a forceful rejection of the administration’s call to eliminate the agencies.
This afternoon, the House passed a tax bill with a vote of 227-205, with 13 Republicans breaking ranks to vote against it. The bill that passed included a clause that would make tuition waivers for graduate students subject to income tax. This would significantly increase the tax liability of hundreds of thousands of graduate students.
Last week, the Senate released its tax bill, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Unlike the House bill, the Senate’s version would allow the current exemption for graduate students’ waived tuition to continue. While this is welcome news, as the House and Senate strive to pass final bills before the December recess, the House provision could still prevail when they reconcile their bills.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee released the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Among many provisions that would affect higher education, the current draft of the bill would make tuition waivers for graduate students subject to income tax, increasing the tax liability of hundreds of thousands of graduate students.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down for an interview with the new Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Jon Parrish Peede. Our conversation was the latest installment of NHA’s Between Two Bookshelves conference call series, which offers a brief, deep dive into Washington-based humanities policy for NHA members.