House Considers Proposal to Cut NEA Funding by 15%
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives may vote on Wednesday on an effort to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by 15%.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) proposed the funding cut via an amendment to a larger government funding bill, arguing that the purpose was to make a “small dent” in federal spending, in which the U.S. is borrowing at a rate of 22% of the budget.
At a House Rules Committee meeting earlier this week, Grothman noted that President Donald Trump had proposed zeroing out funding for the agencies. Congress actually slightly increased the budgets for the two agencies, to about $153 million each in 2018.
“I thought I would take just one little bit of this spending and kind of come down a little more on Donald Trump’s side,” Grothman said at a House Rules Committee hearing earlier this week.
He said that private charities or local governments could make up the difference.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, and its ranking member, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), proposed increase the budget of the NEA to $155 million in the 2019 fiscal year. On the House floor on Tuesday evening, Calvert argued that the agency funding has helped military veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder via art therapy programs. Grothman’s amendment failed on a voice vote.A coalition of industry labor groups warned of the funding cut.
Paul E. Almeida, president of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, said “the NEA and NEH are vital to our economy, helping to support family-sustaining jobs in all 50 states. As we have repeatedly told members of Congress, the economic pain of reduced federal arts funding will be felt most acutely in small towns and rural communities, far from the soundstages of Hollywood and bright lights of Broadway.”
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