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Freshman member Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) joined Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) as co-chairs of the Congressional STEAM Caucus.
On April 7th, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) released their long-awaited bipartisan draft bill to reauthorize the long-expired Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The title of the new bill is Every Child Achieves Act.
Congressional Arts Caucus co-Chairs Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) led a bipartisan letter requesting $154.466 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in FY 2016. A record-breaking 134 House members joined them in that request!
The letter especially highlights the economic impact of the arts and the NEA/Walter Reed Healing Arts Partnership.
On March 18, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee held its Public and Outside Witness hearing to receive testimony on programs funded by the subcommittee, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled - in a split (3-2) vote and along party lines - to reclassify broadband as a utility. The action gives the commission more regulatory power over Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Although reflective of many of the record number of public comments, the ruling has resulted in some members of Congress developing an alternative legislative response.
On December 30th, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final rule that helps help flying musicians and the safety of their instruments. It goes into effect on March 6, 2015.
Around Thanksgiving, there was a flurry of congressional activity to attempt to make several key charitable giving tax provisions permanent and remove them from the cycle of expiration and retroactive reinstatement, including the IRA Charitable Rollover and enhanced deductions for donations of land conservation easements and food inventory. That bipartisan and bicameral work fell apart with a Presidential veto threat, but then on December 11, the U.S.
Congress reached agreement on final funding for most federal agencies and programs for the 2015 fiscal year, which started back in October. The U.S. House passed this mega "cromnibus" by a vote of 219-206 on December 11. The U.S. Senate passed it by a vote of 56-40 on December 13. Included in the agreement is $146 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which continues agency funding at current levels through September 2015.
As Congress returned to session following the midterm elections, Americans for the Arts and Americans for the Arts' Action Fund joined more than 1,000 organizations from across the nonprofit sector in sending a letter to all 535 Members of Congress to advocate for permanent enactment of the charitable tax provisions within any year-end tax ext