After the Trump administration proposed the elimination of the NEH, NEA, and several other humanities programs, the humanities community sent over 160,000 messages to Congress, wrote scores of op-eds, and met with hundreds of Congressional offices.
In the end, Congress not only rejected Trump administration’s proposals at every turn but also increased funding for the NEH! This increase comes on the heels of $2 million dollar funding increases in each of the past two years.
The spending bill notes that the increases will help the NEH enhances its support for the preservation of Native languages and cultures and local history preservation initiatives, as well as fund a new program to build infrastructure and capacity for humanities organizations. The bill also lauds the work of the state humanities councils and highlights several of the NEH’s exemplary programs, including the National Digital Newspaper Program and those designed for veterans and tribal communities.
Across the Board Wins
The good news does not end with the NEH. Two other agencies that the Trump administration had proposed eliminating for FY 2018 also received increases. The bill includes a robust increase for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), funding the agency at $240 million, up from $231 million. The Woodrow WIlson Center would also receive an increase, bringing its budget to $12 million from $10.5 million.
We were especially pleased to see that the bill includes level funding for the Department of Education’s international education programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays), which the Trump administration also slated for elimination. While the Senate had rejected the administration’s proposals and proposed level funding for both programs in its draft bill, the House had proposed eliminating funding for Fulbright-Hays. The level funding for both programs in the final bill is the result of the efforts of advocates over the course of the year.
We are also pleased to see that the Senate’s proposed levels prevailed for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which would receive $6 million, the same as its FY 2017 level. The House had proposed only $4 million.
This spending deal, which we expect to pass the House and Senate in the next days, finally resolves funding levels for FY 2018, which started last October. The appropriations process for FY 2019 has already begun, with the Trump administration proposing the elimination of the NEH and several humanities programs yet again.
It is crucial that we build on these successes and ensure that Congress continues to see the impact of humanities funding around the country.
Thank you for your advocacy!