This Week on the Hill – May 24

May 28, 2019

FY 2020 INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE – HOUSE
Bill approved in the House along a party-line vote of 30-21.

The House Appropriations Committee held a spirited but cordial debate on Wednesday on the FY 2020 Interior Appropriations bill before approving the bill in a party-line vote of 30-21.  As reported earlier this week, the bill includes $167.5 million for the NEH and $51 million for the Federal/State Partnership.  This represents an increase of $12.5 million for the agency and $3 million for the councils, along with $6 million “to advance cross-cutting NEH initiatives,” including programming related to the commemoration of the U.S. Semiquincentennial, the advancement of civic education, and support for veterans and their families.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Interior Appropriations Subcommittee member, spoke strongly in support of the increased funding for the NEH and the NEA, citing in particular their important support for veterans and rural communities.  Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and other members of the full committee also commended the work of the cultural agencies.

Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) said the bill “would make sound investments to protect the health and safety of Americans, preserve our rich cultural heritage, and conserve our environment for future generations….It would increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Heritage Partnership Program – programs that strengthen our country by enabling Americans of all ages to study the arts, culture, and history of our nation.”

As in past years, much of the debate on the bill focused on environmental and land use provisions. Several amendments were offered but only one, a manager’s amendment making technical and noncontroversial corrections to the bill, was approved.

The increases to the NEH and the Federal/State Partnership are a positive start to the appropriations process, but it is important to remember that the action by the House Appropriations Committee is just the beginning.  The House bill must next be approved by the full House, and the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee must mark up a bill to be moved through the same process.  Once both the House and Senate have approved bill, the two versions must be conferenced to reconcile differences and produce a final bill to be sent to both chambers.

THANK YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

If you have members on the House Appropriations Committee, this would be a good time to contact them to say thank you if they supported the bill.  If they did not, it is still useful to communicate how valuable additional funding at the recommended level would be to the communities in the member’s district.

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