The Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives has voted to restore the $8 million cut to the National Endowment for the Humanities budget initially recommended by the Interior appropriations subcommittee for fiscal year 2015. The Committee’s allocation of $146 million for the NEH would keep the agency at the same level (minus inflation) as FY 2012. This is hardly cause for massive celebration, given the substantial decline in real dollars that the Endowment has suffered since 1979, when its inflation-adjusted resources were approximately three times their current level. Moreover, it is not clear whether this aspect of the budget-making process will actually mean very much in the end, given the difficulties Congress is having in passing legislation.
As of now it looks like the federal government will operate on a continuing resolution until at least after the November elections. So the NEH, like other agencies, will continue to operate according to the specifications of its current budget well into the fall.
That said, what we accomplished with the Appropriations Committee does matter. If the process moves forward towards the end of the calendar year, the budget that is on the table is better from the NEH’s perspective than was the case two days ago. Moreover, the committee has been reminded that the Endowment does have a constituency that will speak up. We try not to ask too often for that voice. But there are times when it must announce its presence.
Thank you to all who responded to the call.