Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 16:37:51 -0400 From: Allan Metcalf 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 leadership. 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 Congress. 2. NEH & NEA RECEIVE BIPARTISAN SENATE SUPPORT FOR REAUTHORIZATION 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 floor. 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. LABOR COMMITTEE MARKUP OF S. 856 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 reduction. 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 lines. 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. SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS MARKUP 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]