US Senate and House Increase NEH and NEA Budgets

August 8, 2018

Row of books with the title of An American Budget sitting on a table.

On Wednesday, August 1, Congress passed an FY19 budget that included a $155 million budget for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This appropriation represents a $2.2 million increase from the FY18 budget. The budget, passed under the Fiscal Year 2019 Interior Appropriations Bill, refutes President Trump’s call earlier this year for the elimination of both the NEA and NEH, which make up roughly 0.0004 percent of the federal budget together.

“The administration is disappointed that the bill does not eliminate federal funding for NEA [and] NEH,” said a statement from the White House. “The administration recognizes the positive effects the arts and humanities have on our communities; however, the FY 2019 budget request proposed an orderly phase-out of federal funding for these agencies, as the administration does not consider their activities to be core federal responsibilities.”

The $2.2 million increase, about 1.4 percent of the NEA and NEH budgets, still falls short of the annual 2 percent rate of inflation, according to ArtNet News. In July, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to cut the NEA and NEH budget by 15% (about $23 million) with a 297–114 vote. In a story from Variety, Robert Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said the disparity in votes was “one of the largest vote margins in support of the NEA and NEH ever.”

In a separate email made to ArtNet News, Lynch credited the outcome to the efforts of citizen advocates, saying the results were due to “years of arts advocacy by many partners, artists, and state and local arts leaders, along with the 400,000 citizen activist members of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, who have all worked with members of Congress to share the importance of federal support.”

Americans for the Arts, in a July blog post, wrote “This bipartisan showing and resounding vote is a testament to the power of the arts in our communities, schools, lives, and careers. We are proud and excited to know publicly, and on the record, just how strongly supported the National Endowments are by our elected officials in Congress on both sides of the aisle.”


Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

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