Arts Action News
After delays and wrangling, Congress has reached agreement on final funding for all federal agencies and programs for the 2015 fiscal year, which started back in October. The U.S. House passed this mega bill, known as a “Cromnibus,” late last night by a vote of 219-206, sending it to the U.S. Senate, where they will work through the weekend to pass it.
Included in the agreement is $146 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This means funding would continue (for the fourth year in a row) at current levels through September 2015. This funding level matches the U.S. House committee’s proposal from this summer and the President’s request from the spring, but it is less than the $150 million proposed by the U.S. Senate and favored by arts advocates.
Also included is $25 million in funding for the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education, which has again survived efforts to zero out funding or consolidate all funds.
In addition to funding, Congress included several policy provisions, notably legislation that reauthorizes Brand USA, a public-private partnership that helps generate international visits to the U.S. aiding the cultural tourism sector. It is also expected in these last few hours that Congress will pass a patch to allow last-minute tax-free contributions from IRA accounts, a key item for arts institutions.
These actions conclude another turbulent and chaotic year in Congress that has seen these annual funding bills stalled with “policy riders” that were often completely unrelated to the actual funding of government agencies and programs.
A summary of the final FY 2015 appropriations is as follows:
Congress will now turn to work on FY 2016, while also needing to address funding problems as soon as January because of short-term spending decisions for agencies carrying out U.S. immigration law.
With all these late-breaking developments and chaotic scenes, make sure your pro-arts message is heard as the new 114th Congress takes office and begins work on the next budget. Please join us in Washington for the 28th annual Arts Advocacy Day: The National Arts Action Summit on March 23 – 24, 2015, and let your representatives know the arts are important to you and your communities! Register today!
Thank you for your support of the arts. Please help us continue this important work by becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund. If you are not already a member, play your part by joining the Arts Action Fund today – it’s free and easy to join!