June 16, 2000
Conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives took away up $22 million that had been set aside to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and Office of Museum Services last night, June 15, 2000, on the House floor. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) had won an amendment earlier in the day authorizing $22 million to be set aside for the arts, but, just moments before the cultural agenciesÃ• funding increase was to be offered in an amendment, House GOP conservatives and members of the leadership proposed an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill to use the $22 million for the Indian Health Bureau instead.
Placed in such a difficult position, the House passed the $22 million increase for the Indian Health Bureau by voice vote late in the day. Increases for the NEA, NEH and OMS could therefore not happen because the funds had already been spent.
It is important to note that an amendment to DECREASE funding for the arts, offered by Cliff Stearns (R-FL), was soundly defeated by the House earlier in the day with a vote of 256-152.
WE HAVE NOT LOST YET. The Senate is expected to pass an increase in funding for the cultural agencies, at which time further discussions will take place in conference committees, hopefully in friendlier environs. Keep generating those cards and letters to your Member of Congress and Senators Grams and Wellstone, asking them to weigh in their support to decision-makers in upcoming conference committees to restore the originally designated offsets to increase funding for the NEA, NEH and OMS.