Congress takes next steps on FY18 NEA funding, arts education, and tax reform

July 20, 2017

NEA funding approved by House committee

Arts funding made further progress in Congress when on Tuesday, July 18 the House Appropriations Committee approved the Interior Subcommittee's recommendation of $145 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Although the typical order calls for the full House to next take up the funding recommendation in a floor vote, timing is uncertain as Congress considers bundling together spending bills into one or more FY18 funding packages. If you have not yet contacted your members of Congress to urge support for FY18 NEA funding, please check out the League's easy-to-use online campaign.

Education funding moves forward

In other Congressional action, the U.S. House Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved its subcommittee recommendation for FY18 funding, which includes funding for the U.S. Department of Education. The proposed funding once again zeroes out the $27 million currently allocated to the Assistance for Arts Education program, so advocates will continue to look to the Senate to restore the funding. The House bill funds the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants­ (SSAEG) at $500 million. SSAEG is a new program created by the Every Student Succeeds Act, and while the recommended allocation represents a $100 million increase from FY17 funding, it is far below the authorized amount of $1.65 billion. The subcommittee also recommended cuts to afterschool funding, allotting funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers at $1 billion--a reduction of $191 million below its current FY2017 level. Each of these areas offers opportunities for in-school and out-of-school programs to leverage the arts as a learning opportunity for all students. Please visit the League's music education action center to learn more and to contact Congress.

Tax policy addressed in budget resolution

This week the House also began consideration of the long-anticipated House FY18 Budget Resolution, which addresses both overall federal spending limits, as well as broad instructions for moving forward with comprehensive tax reform proposals. Though short on details regarding specific tax provisions, the budget resolution prompts a discussion of how quickly the House and Senate might move forward with tax reform plans. While the House Budget Committee's resolution includes instructions to overhaul the tax system and reduce the deficit by at least $203 billion over ten years, leaders in the Senate are less optimistic about the proposal to combine spending cuts with tax reform. This week, in response to the Senate Finance Committee's request for feedback on the direction tax reform might take, the League's comments on behalf of orchestras urge the committee to ensure that the big picture of comprehensive reform will result in increased charitable giving, and that any new rules related to nonprofit activity will increase the capacity of orchestras and other nonprofits to serve their communities.