Date: Wed, 2 Aug 1995 10:11:15 -0400 From: Allan Metcalf Subject: NEH update (medium length) Here again, from our inside track in Washington, are the latest developments in funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. - Allan Metcalf *************************************** August 31, 1995 TO: NHA Members and Friends FR: John Hammer and Cuc Vu RE: Washington News Update: Senate Completes FY96 Appropriations Markup on NEH __________________________________________________________________ NEH FARES A LITTLE BETTER THAN NEA IN SENATE During the week of July 24, the Senate proceeded with actions in connection with the NEH through the Interior Appropriations and full Appropriations markups. The following is a summary of the highlights. SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA), the subcommittee's chair, followed the House mark and recommended putting $99.5 million into both NEH and NEA for FY96. Mr. Gorton's mark is consistent with the remarks he made earlier during the Labor Committee's markup of an NEA/NEH reauthorization bill. During the Labor markup, Mr. Gorton explained that cultural programs constitute approximately 6 percent of the interior budget and said that the Labor Committee's proposed 5 percent cuts next year are "totally unrealistic." He also added that he (as chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee) would not reduce those cultural institutions for which the government has sole responsibility such as the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art. NEH, however, got a boost when Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR) successfully maneuvered a $15 million increase. However, it is not clear whether the Bumpers amendment will hold on the Senate floor; the energy program from which the offset came has many champions in the Senate and may be restored, which may put NEH back at the original $99.5 million mark. Mr. Bumpers was not able to do the same for NEA, and sadly noted that he would have liked to have done at least the same or more for NEA. The votes simply were not there. An important factor in NEH's win was the support of Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), who carries significant influence with his GOP colleagues. SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS Last Friday, July 28 the Senate Committee on Appropriations marked up all interior programs for FY96 and approved $114.5 million for the humanities endowment (representing a 34% reduction from current levels), while keeping the arts endowment at $99.5 million. The different figures may reflect the increasing distinction being drawn between NEH and NEA among many members of Congress. The highlights of the committee's proceedings included amendments from Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) in connection to NEH. LEAHY-BENNETT AMENDMENT. Mr. Leahy and Mr. Bennett proposed to transfer $25 million from the Naval Petroleum Oil Reserve to the endowments--Mr. Gorton added $50 million to the Reserve in the Interior Subcommittee markup. Of the proposed $25 million, Leahy and Bennett wanted to put $5 million into NEH and the remaining $20 million into NEA to bring it up to parity with NEH. The Leahy-Bennett amendment failed by a vote of 14-13, with Senators Robert Byrd (D-WV), Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC), J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA), Mark Hatfield (R-OR), Ted Stevens (R-OR), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Phil Gramm (R-TX), Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO), Slade Gorton (R-WA), Connie Mack (R-FL), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Judd Gregg (R-NH) voting against the amendment. Senator Mitch McConnell (R- KY) did not vote. Three Republicans--Senators James Jeffords (R- VT), who has been critical in the reauthorization process, Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Robert Bennett (R-UT)--joined with the remaining Democrats in support of the endowments. The vote from Mr. Hatfield was noted among observers, who mistakenly thought Mr. Hatfield would vote in favor of the endowments. Mr. Hatfield explained that he could not go against the recommendation of his colleague, Mr. Gorton, who as the chair of the subcommittee with oversight over the endowments suggested marking only $99.5 million for each endowment. The narrow margin of defeat is an encouragement to arts and humanities advocates, since some of the endowments's staunchest critics such as Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) sit on the committee. Mr. Leahy plans to introduce an amendment to the full Senate, where arts and humanities advocates hope to capture enough moderate GOP votes to tilt the balance in favor of giving the endowments a modest increase. At this time, it is not certain whether Mr. Bennett will again join with Mr. Leahy in a bipartisan effort. Communications from Mr. Leahy's office indicate that a bipartisan collaboration is likely. INOUYE AMENDMENT. Senator Harry Reid showed himself to be a great friend when he rescued NEH from Senator Daniel Inouye's (D-HI) proposal to transfer $19 million from NEH to the American Indian Museum. Mr. Reid suggested that Mr. Inouye take $15 million from the Naval Petroleum Oil Reserve instead. The committee passed Mr. Inouye's amendment with Mr. Reid's suggestions. NEXT STEPS The Appropriations Committee filed its final report (S. 104-25) on Monday, July 31, which means that the bill is technically ready to go to the floor. Staff estimates vary as to whether the bill will reach the floor before the August 11 break. -- National Humanities Alliance 21 Dupont Circle, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 296-2994 Internet: nhainfo[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]