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Bipartisan Bill Would Boost NEA and NEH Budgets by $1.9 Million Each

President Trump is expected to sign the legislation, which gives financial boosts to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities through the end of the current fiscal year.

A protester at the April 3 Rally to Save the Arts at New York City Hall (photo by Claire Voon/Hyperallergic)

An omnibus spending bill released early this morning by both houses of the US Congress includes increased funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (NEA and NEH), as well as for the Smithsonian Institution. According to Bloomberg, President Trump is expected to sign the legislation, which would fund the federal government through September 30, 2017, the end of the current fiscal year (FY).

The $1 trillion bill comes as lawmakers have been staring down the threat of a possible government shutdown. Congressional Democrats and Republicans have been attempting since October to strike a deal to fund the rest of FY 2017; their negotiations were further complicated by the election of President Trump, who initially demanded that the budget include money to begin construction of a US–Mexico border wall. Trump dropped that request last week and agreed to continue funding cost-sharing subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, NBC News reported. Congress and the president also enacted a continuing resolution to keep the government operating through midnight this Friday, which is now the deadline for passage and signing of the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill.

A bipartisan effort released by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the legislations eschews many of Trump’s more extreme budget proposals, including the elimination of the NEA and NEH. Instead, the bill increases funding for both agencies by $1.9 million, bringing their respective budgets up to $149.8 million. It also earmarks $863.3 million for the Smithsonian Institution, a $23 million jump from the FY 2016 enacted level that’s meant to “improve the long-term storage of collections and increase security.” The bill maintains $36.4 million in funding for the Kennedy Center and devotes $45 million to the construction of Frank Gehry’s long-planned Eisenhower Memorial. And it provides additional funds for the National Park Service to the tune of $2.9 billion, with $13.5 million set aside for “competitive grants to preserve the sites and stories of the Civil Rights Movement.”

The House Rules Committee is set to take up the bill at 3pm tomorrow, the first step in its advancement toward a vote in the House and then the Senate. Although the legislation rejects many of Trump’s stated priorities and “resembles more of an Obama administration-era spending bill than a Trump one,” in the words of Bloomberg News, the president claims to be “very happy with it” and is expected to sign it into law.

Even so, it’s likely that the government budget battles are not over, but on hold. White House spokesman Sean Spicer told Reuters that he expects Trump’s “priorities will be reflected much more” in the spending bill for fiscal year 2018, negotiations for which begin October 1.

h/t @kristoncapps

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