Advocacy Alert: March 22

Congress Adopts 2013 Spending Bills; 2014 Process Begins

Yesterday, Congress completed work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 appropriations bills, passing a continuing resolution that sets funding levels for government agencies that will be in effect until October 1, 2013. While legislators made changes to some programs, they effectively left much of the federal government on autopilot, extending last year’s funding levels until the start of the next fiscal year. This holds true for many of the agencies and programs that support museums, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). After factoring in the five percent cut to these agencies due to sequestration, the end result will be decreased federal support for museums in the coming months.

With President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request due to arrive on April 8, the process for determining next year’s budget is well underway. This week, the Alliance testified before Congress, urging them to maintain funding for NSF programs that support museums. And in the coming days and weeks, museum champions Congressman Paul Tonko and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will circulate letters of support for the IMLS Office of Museum Services. Be prepared to hear from the Alliance when the time comes to urge your legislators to sign these letters.

Alliance President Reacts to House Budget Resolution Language: “Deeply Misguided”
This week the House of Representatives also approved a budget resolution, originally written by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and questions whether museum funding through IMLS is a national priority.

“Although this deeply misguided language has been included in prior House budgets, it is as disturbing today as ever,” said Alliance President Ford W. Bell. “Museums are core educational institutions, economic engines, and community anchors, and these statements profoundly mistake their essential role in serving our diverse public.”

The House report (a narrative produced by the House Budget Committee explaining the bill) contends that grants through IMLS are “not a core federal responsibility.” It further states that funding for NEA and NEH “can no longer be justified” and that “The activities and content funded by these agencies…are generally enjoyed by people of higher income levels, making them a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier citizens.”

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