Harmful Language Removed from Congressional Report

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Last week, the U.S. House Budget Committee voted to advance their budget resolution for fiscal year 2018. Accompanying the resolution is a report further explaining the views of the committee. For the first time in recent years, the report no longer includes language supporting the termination of our nation’s cultural agencies.
This action comes after 35 Tennessee organizations—representing museum, arts, and humanities fields—sent a letter in May. Written to the new Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Chairman Diane Black, who represents the 6th district of Tennessee, these Tennessee arts advocates urged the removal of this harmful language. The fiscal year 2018 budget resolution was Chairman Black’s first under her leadership. Americans for the Arts and other national arts organizations met with Chairman Black’s staff to share concerns with the language.

The May letter explained how these federal agencies support the local economy in Tennessee and expand access to the arts and preservation of our history in Tennessee and throughout the country in every congressional district.
The new language still says the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are “beyond the core mission of the federal government,” but it now recognizes that the arts impact “small towns to dense urban cores.” It also no longer says the Institute of Museum and Libraries Services (IMLS) is “not a core federal responsibility.” That language has been successfully removed. Further, the report notes the “perennial funding uncertainty” that current budgeting processes have contributed to, and the financial support for the arts from private-sector businesses, organizations, and individuals. This sentiment is in line with the “broad bipartisan support” noted in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s report, and continues to fully reject the administration’s request to terminate these agencies, which have served our country for over 50 (NEA, NEH) and more than 20 (IMLS) years, in their work to increase access to the arts to all Americans.