On Friday, the Biden administration released its FY 22 budget request which included increases for many of our priorities. While this is only a request and Congress will ultimately craft spending bills, the increases in the administration’s proposal are thanks to the ongoing efforts of humanities advocates and show that the Biden administration understands the value of these programs.
The House appropriations subcommittees have been releasing their FY 2021 draft bills over the past week and several have now passed out of the full appropriations committee. We have been pleased to see proposed increases for all of our priorities in these bills. The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill included $170 million for the NEH, matching our request for a $7.75 million increase. The bill passed the full committee on a party-line vote of 30-19.
This past spring, when universities were shutting down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ICE issued a temporary exemption, which allowed nonimmigrant international students to stay in the U.S. while their classes went virtual. On July 6, ICE issued a decision that would end temporary visa exemptions for immigrant students whose upcoming coursework will be entirely online.
In early April, we launched a survey that asked humanities organizations to share the challenges they are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Museums, historic sites, and historical societies told us that closing their doors and canceling major events has led to major financial stress, leading them to face lay-offs and the possibility that they won’t survive as organizations.
Each year, a key part of the appropriations process is Dear Colleague Letters. These letters, circulated each March, are written to request a certain amount of appropriations funding for agencies and policy priorities. The letters then receive sign ons from Members of Congress who wish to add their support to specific funding requests.
As Congress begins to consider additional COVID-19 relief funding packages, we are calling on humanities advocates to contact their Members of Congress this week to urge additional relief funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. While we are very grateful for $75 million awarded to the NEH in the CARES Act, currently available funding will cover only a fraction of the needed assistance.