Federal legislation impacts on the arts

Swift Action on Appropriations
Both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committees advanced sustained funding ($146 million each) for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in summer markups. This was the first time in nearly six years that the Senate held a hearing on its draft legislation. Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) also attempted to increase funding by $2 million to meet the president’s funding request. Despite the flurry of activity, renewed gridlock is anticipated on floor activity as Congress approaches the end of the fiscal year this September.

Good News for Arts Education
Congress is now a step closer to renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that officially expired in 2007! In July, the Senate approved its bipartisan bill, Every Child Achieves Act, by a vote of 81-17, and the House voted 218-213 to advance its highly partisan legislation to reauthorize ESEA. The Senate bill includes a number of arts-friendly provisions, including retaining the arts as a core academic subject-a key legislative priority. These floor votes clear the way for the House and Senate to begin work on a final bill that can be signed into law and help advance policy to ensure that every child can receive a complete education that includes the arts.                                                       

STEAM Grows
Freshman member Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has joined Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) to serve as co-chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus. Americans for the Arts helped advise the formation of the STEAM Caucus when it was first established in 2013. It now numbers 75 members! The goal of STEAM is to “change the vocabulary” of education to recognize the benefits of both the arts and sciences-and their intersections-to our country’s future economy.The Arts Action Fund monitors arts policy at the federal level and helps bring citizens’ voices to the table when important arts issues are debated. For detailed legislative updates, please visit  www.AmericansForTheArts.org/news-room/legislative-news.