Date: Sat, 12 Aug 1995 15:42:28 -0400 From: Allan Metcalf Subject: NEH funding news again Those who weary of the NEH saga, skip this. Those concerned about the momentous decisions now being made on govt funding of humanities research, read on. Again this is from our Washington source, the National Humanities Alliance. - Allan Metcalf *********************************** Thu, Aug 10, 1995 9:58 AM CDT From: jhammer[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] (John Hammer) Yesterday, by voice vote, the Senate amended the FY-96 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to increase the arts endowment by $10.5 million and decrease the humanities endowment by $4.5 million leaving both agencies at $110 million. The Institute of Museum Services was increased by $1 million to $22 million. The amendment was initiated by Senator James Jeffords (R-VT), with cosponsorship by SEnators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Dale Bumpers (D-AR), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL), Claiborne Pell (D-RI), and Alan Simpson (R-WY). The Senate bill does not include language phasing out the endowments. The outcome of lowering NEH's level to accommodate NEA, as far as one can tell, was not anti-NEH but reflected the drive for parity in a very difficult context for finding acceptable offsets (i.e., other budget line items, in this case from the Interior bill,from which to move money). Senator Jeffords initially announced on the floor that the amendment would bring both agencies to $115 but then conceded that that much in offsets had not been found. NEH's community can be forgiven for being unhappy about giving up potential funding to achieve parity between the endowments. The legislators who are so concerned about parity now, were noticeably unconcerned in the years when NEH's appropriations lagged behind NEA, sometimes by as much as $30 million. One unpleasant aspect of the amendment passed by the Senate is the inclusion of language restricting National Endowment for the Arts grants which was brought forward by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC). The restrictive language, which is vintage Helms, prohibits "support for projects to promote, disseminate, sponsor or produce materials or performances" which a) "denigrate or objects or beliefs of adherents of a particular religion"; and b) "depict or describe, in a patently offensive was, sexual or excretory activities or organs." Senate staffers indicate that Senatoar Jeffords and his co-sponsors accepted the language out of concern that they lacked the votes to pass the amendment without Helms. The Helms language is directed only at NEA -- not NEH or IMS. While many believe that the restrictive laguage eventually would be found unconstitutional should it become laws, a major concern is that the issue will deflect conferees from resolving the far more pressing issue of the House-passed provision that terminates the NEA in two years and the NEH in three years. As noted above, the Senate bill does not contain language phasing out the agencies but Senator John McCain [R-AZ] mentioned on the floor the night before the endowments came under discussion, that he intended to sponsor a provision that neither endowment could use FY-96 funds without formal reauthorization -- For reasons unknown here, McCain did not offer his proposal. The next step for the endowments will be a House/Senate conference most likely to be held in mid to late September.