Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 16:37:51 -0400

From: Allan Metcalf AAllan[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: NEH update (lengthy)

For those who want to know about NEH funding and future, here is another

report from our observation post in Washington, the National Humanities

Alliance. It's long!

- Allan Metcalf


20 July 1995

TO: NHA Members and Friends

FR: John Hammer and Cuc Vu

RE: Washington News Update: 1. House votes FY-96 appropriation

for NEH, NEA, and IMS

2. Senate Committee completes work

on NEH et al reauthorization


1. House Action - It Could Have Been Much Worse

The House approved a FY-1996 Interior Appropriations Bill (H.R.

1977) after debate spread over 5 days that includes appropriations

for the cultural agencies as follows:

Actual* Approved

(in millions) FY-95 FY-96

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) $172.0 99.5

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 162.4 99.5

Institute of Museum Services (IMS) 28.7 21.0

Smithsonian Institution 362.7 350.4

National Gallery of Art 56.9 56.8

Woodrow Wilson International Center 8.9 5.2

National Capital Arts & Cultural Affairs 7.5 6.0

[*Figures assume that the FY95 Rescissions will be taken. The

revised rescissions bill, over which the administration and

Congressional leaders reached agreement, will reduce both NEH and

NEA by $5 million. An earlier version of the rescissions bill was

vetoed by President Clinton.]

While a 42% reduction for NEH is extraordinarily sharp and clearly

indicates that NEH and its sister agencies were singled out for

much greater reductions than most other agencies in the Interior

budget--and the bill includes the 3-year phase out contained in

the committee-passed reauthorization bill (the Goodling bill)--

there are several positive points to note:

o Although the NEH is not formally authorized, it has

survived the budget process through a floor vote in the House;

o Due to the way in which the Rules battle played out in the

House, NEH, IMS, and numerous other unauthorized programs like the

Bureau of Land Management can continue in FY-96 even if there is

not a formal reauthorization. (Unfortunately, the NEA may not go

forward in FY-96 unless the restriction is lifted through

negotiation with the Senate, completion of reauthorization, or a

change of heart on the part of the GOP leadership.)

o Supporters of the endowments in Congress (with

encouragement from many including NHA members) managed to steer

through many parliamentary and other impediments despite the

almost unanimous opposition to their retention by the GOP House


By the time the appropriations for the endowments reached the

floor, they had already been on a long roller coaster ride. Late

last year, the GOP leaders pronounces that unauthorized programs

would not be considered by the appropriating committee (a

situation that blurred when other programs valued by the GOP

leaders turned out to be unauthorized). By Spring, Interior

appropriations subcommittee chair Ralph Regula (R-OH 16th) was

speaking of process NEH and NEA in the FY-96 legislation but

expected them to be tossed out on a point of order when introduced

on the floor due to the lack of authorization. When the bill

reached the floor, an agreement between Mr. Regula and the ranking

minority member Sidney Yates (D-Il 9th)--which could not have been

reached without GOP leadership agreement--had produced a waiver

from the Rules Committee protecting unauthorized programs from

points of order.

The floor battle began as the curtain rose late in the day on

Wednesday, July 12. Dissident GOP freshmen called for the defeat

of the rule which protected the endowments (especially NEA) from

expulsion due to lack of current authorization. All but 20 of the

Democrats joined the dissidents to bring about the first defeat of

a rule in the 104th Congress 235 to 193. While many of the

Democrats are long-time friends of the endowments, the vote seems

to have been seen as a) an opportunity to hand the GOP leaders a

defeat, and b) a possibility to reopen some of the environmental

issues decisions they opposed. Unfortunately under the revised

rule which was accepted the next day, the GOP Freshman gained new

concessions on the NEA including a phase out in only two years for

NEA and strong on-the-record pressure for negotiators with the

Senate to yield nothing on the NEA provisions. During the

discussion, Mr. Regula and Mr. Goodling both seemed to agree that

the 2-year phaseout for NEA would be adhered to by both

appropriations and authorization negotiators. The Democrats' role

in the defeat of the rule gained little or nothing in terms of

changes in environmental areas (e.g., the virtual dismantling of

the Biological Survey which is important in the implementation of

the Endangered Species Act).

The going was better after the initial defeat. The groundwork had

been well laid among GOP moderates and Democratic friends of the

endowments. Rep. Peter Torkildsen (R-MA 6th) had built a series

of "Dear Colleague" letters co-signed by a number of other GOP

and, sometimes, Democratic members calling for reasonable

appropriations. After the Appropriations Committee markup, Mr.

Torkildsen collaborated with Louise Slaughter (D-NY 28th) in a

letter signed by several others saying the endowments have already

borne major reductions and calling for firm resistance to any

further cuts.

On Monday, Cliff Stearns (R-FL 6th) came forward with another of

his often successful amendments to cut the NEA--this time by $10

million. Support for the NEA was strong and especially

bipartisan. The amendment was defeated 179 to 227.

Also debated on monday was an amendment offered by Steve Chabot

(R-OH 1st) to eliminate all funding for NEH from the bill. Again,

there was a strong, bipartisan, support for the agency from, among

others, Tillie Fowler (R-FL), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Sheila

Jackson-Lee (D-TX 18th), Nita Lowey (D-NY 18th), Bill Martini (R-

NJ 8th), Connie Morella (R-MD-8th), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th), and

David Skaggs (D-CO). In speaking in opposition, Bill Goodling (R-

PA 19th) noted that the bill did not even provide the NEH with the

$134 million called for in his reauthorization bill. The vote on

the Chabot amendment was taken the following day when it was

rejected 148 to 277--a major affirmation for the NEH which has not

been the target of an up-or-down vote of this type in the 104th



On Wednesday, July 19 the Senate Committee on Labor & Human

Resources reauthorized the National Endowment for the Humanities

(NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) by a strong

bipartisan vote of 12-4. The reauthorization bill (S. 856) was

co-sponsored by Senators James Jeffords (R-VT), Nancy Kassebaum

(R-KS), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Claiborne

Pell (D-RI) and Alan Simpson (R-WY). The next challenge for the

Committee will be to schedule the bill for a vote on the Senate


S. 856

S. 856 reauthorizes the endowments for five years starting in

FY96. Both the NEH and NEA will receive 5% cuts each year for

five years as follows:

FY96 FY97 FY98 FY99 FY00

NEH $160m $152m $144m $137m $130m

NEA $153m $146m $138m $131m $125m

Of the sums appropriated each fiscal year, 30% shall be reserved

for state humanities councils as partnership grants (of which 5%

will go to elementary and secondary education in the humanities),

35% for national grants, and another 35% for research and

scholarship grants. This represents an adoption of amendments

offered by Bill Frist (R-TN) which eliminated elementary and

secondary education in the humanities from the purpose of national

grants, increased partnership grants from 25% to 30%, and reduced

both national grants and research and scholarship grants from

37.5% to 35%.

S. 856 also stipulates that the endowments may not spend more than

12% of the sums for each fiscal year on administrative costs such

as rent for office space and personnel. Some of the

administrative costs are fixed and are very difficult to

reconfigure without personnel reductions. If the agencies only

receive $99.5 million as the House has agreed and as the Senate

Interior Appropriations Subcommittee may offer next week, the

endowments may well have to release more than half of their staff

in an effort to retain as much of the programs as possible. This

bill also requires the endowments to merge a number of

administrative functions. The NEH has been thinking for some time

about how to make adjustments to various budget levels. No one

doubts that there will be personnel reductions.


The endowments received solid support from all of the committee's

Democrats and the handful of moderate GOP members, particularly

Jeffords. Arts and humanities advocates also picked up a few

hints from Slade Gorton (R-WA), who also has oversight of NEH

appropriations as the chairman of the Senate Interior

Appropriations Subcommittee. In his supportive comments on

Spencer Abraham's (R-MI) amendment to privatize the NEA and NEH,

Gorton also made inference to following the House appropriations

mark of $99.5 million for the endowments, which is a major turn

away from his recent discussion of zeroing out the NEH in the

Senate interior appropriations bill. Moreover, Gorton cast one of

the twelve votes to reauthorize the endowments. Gorton's support

may have been influenced by a bipartisan sign-on letter by Alan

Simpson (R-WY) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) that urged Gorton and

his Democratic colleague Robert Byrd (D-WV) to follow the Labor

Committee's funding recommendations and not make deep cuts to the

budgets of the endowments. Thirty-four members of the Senate

signed the letter, including eight Republicans--James Jeffords (R-

VT), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Orrin

Hatch (R-UT), Robert Bennet (R-UT), John Chaffee (R-RI), Bill

Cohen (R-ME), and Mr. Simpson.

On the other hand, Bill Frist (R-TN), who did not comment on any

of the amendments, joined Dan Coats (R-IN), John Ashcroft (R-MO),

and Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and voted against reauthorization.

Frist also supported the Abraham amendment to privatize the

agencies and the Ashcroft-Gregg amendment to reduce the budgets of

the endowments by 50% over five years. While defeat of the

Abraham and Ashcroft-Gregg amendments did not hinge on Frist's

vote, many observers believed that Frist's actions in yesterday's

markup conflicted with assurances of support for the endowments

during the development of the revised bill.

The endowments, however, still have the backing of Jeffords and

Nancy Kassebaum, although Kassebaum made very clear yesterday her

growing frustration with the arts endowment and the recent

controversy about an allegedly sexually explicit performance piece

by a gay artist at Highways, a theater and performance art space

in Los Angeles that received an NEA grant last year.

The following is a summary of the proposed amendments to S. 856.

o ABRAHAM AMENDMENT. Proposed to privatize the endowments by

reducing their budgets by 20% each year for five years,

focusing on fundraising, and changing the tax codes to

further stimulate charitable giving.

The amendment was defeated by a vote of 10-6. All seven

Democrats joined with three Republicans--Jeffords, Kassebaum,

and Gregg--to oppose the amendment.

o DODD AMENDMENT. Christopher Dodd's (D-CT) amendment

proposed to direct $150,000 for a study to assess the

feasibility of establishing a true endowment. The money will

come directly from the budgets of both the NEA and NEH.

Spencer Abraham said he would like the study to also examine

his questions about privatization.

Only Dan Coats (R-IN) opposed the amendment.

o ASHCROFT-GREGG AMENDMENT. Proposed to reduce the budgets

of the endowments by 50% over five years. Ashcroft and Gregg

argued that the proposal is more consistent with the Senate

budget resolution (to fund the endowments in FY96 at 50%

below FY95 levels) as well as the goals for deficit


The amendment failed on a tie (8-8) vote. Jeffords was the

lone Republican to oppose the amendment.

o KENNEDY-PELL AMENDMENT. Proposed to restore seven

categories for individual grants, including jazz and dance,

which were all stripped from the Jeffords bill except

literature fellowships.

The amendment was defeated by a vote of 9-7 along party


o DEWINE AMENDMENT. Creates 10% set-aside for underserved

communities. Also changes language pertaining to underserved

communties from "preference" to "priority."

The amendment was accepted by a vote of 12-4.


Markup on NEH FY96 budget is scheduled for the week of July 24.

As mentioned above, the chairman suggested that he will follow the

House mark and appropriate $99.5 million for each endowment.

Cuc Vu

National Humanities Alliance

21 Dupont Circle, N.W. Suite 800

Washington, D.C. 20036

(202) 296-4994

Internet: cuc[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]