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.
This is an assault on a wide range of humanities programs that support research, teaching, museums, libraries, documentary film, and the preservation of cultural heritage. These programs are essential to a healthy civic culture and bridging divides in our communities.
Our attention now turns to Congress, which has the ability to fund these programs despite the administration’s proposals.
A Budget Proposal is Just a Proposal
The Presidential Budget Request is fundamentally advisory. The House and Senate will now begin their own budget and appropriations processes for FY 2019. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will ultimately draft legislation that sets funding levels for the NEH and all other federal funding streams.
Last year’s process was instructive: After the administration requested just $42 million for the NEH (the amount required for the orderly shutdown of the agency) Congress rejected the proposals. The Senate bill for FY 2018 provided $149.8 million for the NEH, which reflected level funding from FY 2017. The House bill provided $145 million, a small decrease that was proportional to cuts to other domestic priorities.
An agreement on final funding for FY 2018 has not yet been reached, but the likelihood that the appropriations process will soon be completed increased last week when Congress struck a deal to raise budget caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019. The House and Senate are now working to craft an omnibus appropriations bill that will finalize all funding levels for FY 2018. We are optimistic that with the proposed levels and the increased budget caps, humanities programs will receive at least level funding when the FY 2018 bill is finalized.
Consistent with the administration’s FY 2018 request, the FY 2019 budget request proposes the small amounts of funding required for the orderly shutdown of independent agencies, such as the NEH, NEA, and IMLS, and the immediate elimination of funding for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays.
Defeating the Trump Proposal Again
To ensure that we defeat Trump’s proposals for FY 2019, we need to yet again send a forceful message to Congress that we oppose the president’s proposal and appreciate Congress’ ongoing support.
Click here to send a message to Congress on behalf of NEH!
Click here to take action on other humanities programs!
Want to do more? Join us in March for Humanities Advocacy Day in March when advocates from around the country will meet with their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to make the case for federal funding for the humanities!
Read more: policy updates