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.
The FY 2018 appropriations process continues to wind on, with the House much farther ahead than the Senate in passing appropriations bills. Humanities advocates have taken action at several critical moments, urging Congress to allocate robust funding to the National Endowment for the Humanities and other humanities programs.
What a week! We spent Tuesday and Wednesday on the Hill with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who came to town to receive the US Capitol Historical Society’s Freedom Award and stayed to advocate for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Last Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee considered the funding bill put forward by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H). As noted in a previous post, this bill provided level funding for both IMLS (at $231 million) and the Department of Education’s Title VI international education programs (at $65 million), but eliminated the Fulbright-Hays program entirely.
Late last night, the House Appropriations Committee endorsed the bill that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies had approved on July 12. As we noted in an earlier post, this bill 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 are pleased to see that the full Appropriations Committee followed the subcommittee’s lead in rejecting the president’s proposal to defund the Endowments.