Article courtesy National Assembly of State Arts Agencies https://nasaa-arts.org/

When the federal government partially shut down, the 116th Congress began its term under unusual circumstances, forced to deal with complicated negotiations from day one. Now that the government has completely reopened, congressional leadership is working simultaneously both to find a solution that will fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year (the current agreement does so only until February 15) and to begin working on the new legislative agenda.

The primary objective of the new, Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is to begin working on infrastructure legislation. What that will actually look like at this point is unclear, but both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and President Trump have spoken optimistically about the potential for bipartisan legislation that will help the nation upgrade its aging infrastructure.

Another area in which there seems to be bipartisan consensus is the hope that budget showdowns can be prevented moving forward, and that appropriations deliberations will be able to operate under the normal process, referred to as “regular order.” To that end, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) budget, will begin holding hearings on the NEA and other agencies under its purview later this month.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee also announced its full membership. Please take a look and see whether you are represented by a member of the subcommittee. While every member of the House is important, these representatives have a direct role in shaping the NEA’s budget each year:

And below are the Senate members of the Interior Subcommittee:

Also noteworthy, the President gave his State of the Union Address this week and is expected to release his budget recommendation to Congress soon. Each of the President’s previous proposals have called for the elimination of the NEA, and we do not expect this year’s to be any different. Therefore, as the process begins to unfold, NASAA encourages you to take the time to contact your members of Congress, particularly those on the House Appropriations Subcommittee, to urge them to continue supporting the NEA.

Although NASAA and our coalition partners have not yet settled on an NEA funding request for this year (we expect that to be announced shortly), it is still meaningful for congressional staff to hear about the value of federal investment in the arts. As always, please let them know that 40% of grant funding for the agency goes directly to state and regional arts organizations. With many new members of Congress sworn in last month, we have a lot of educating to do over the next few weeks and months to make sure their offices are aware of the many benefits associated with federal funding for the NEA.