This morning the Trump administration released its “America First” budget blueprint. We are not surprised by either the breadth or depth of the recommended cuts, given the rhetoric, rumors, and policy rationales that have circulated through Washington over the past two months. Indeed this expectation has shaped our general “wait until the document lands” approach to action alerts. As we have emphasized before, we ask our members to act only when we think it’s an issue of vital importance and will make a difference.
It is now time to act. And a heads up: we will ask you to act again as the budget process proceeds.
This document is breathtaking in its potential impact on the work of historians and our colleagues in related humanities and social science disciplines. The blueprint calls for elimination of federal budgetary support for the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Title VI International and Foreign Language Education, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
No doubt there is more to be concerned about. National Coalition for History and National Humanities Alliance staff are working through the details. It is not yet clear, for example, what the impact of this proposal would be on such agencies as the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, National Archives, or various funders of social science research. It will take time to parse such details as the impact on National Park Service historic sites, and what specific programs are slated for either elimination or death by a thousand cuts.
Because so much is at stake, the AHA asks our members to contact their representatives in Congress as soon as possible to register strong objections to the massive cuts to programs essential to the cultivation of our national heritage and civic culture such as the NEH; foreign language education; funding for museums, libraries, and historic sites; and social science research. This should be a short message that makes clear the scope of our concerns.
What to do today or tomorrow:
To contact your members of Congress, you can use one of these two options. No matter which means of communication you choose, please briefly personalize your message as to your background or interest in history. If you are employed in the field, mention the institution where you work in your state and/or congressional district.
- Make a phone call. All members of Congress can be reached through the US Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. A personal phone call is preferable to an e-mail.
- Write a message. You can find your representative by going to the House website at house.gov. The system allows you to search using your zip code, which will take you directly to a link to your representative’s website and contact information. Congressional offices allow you to send an e-mail if you are from their district. You can also find and contact your senators by going to www.senate.gov.
— Tyler Stovall and Jim Grossman