Statement on Proposed Elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities

On February 12, President Trump released his FY 2019 budget request to Congress, which again calls for eliminating the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), along with other federal cultural agencies. As a staunch supporter of the NEH and federal funding for humanities programming, research, and infrastructure, the Federation of State Humanities Councils is disappointed that the president has once again targeted NEH for elimination. NEH ensures that Americans all across the country have access to vital humanities and cultural programs, which reach veterans, rural families, K-12 students and teachers, and other underserved communities. Elimination is not only unacceptable, but also devastating to America’s future generations, cultural infrastructure, and national pride.

The Federation urges Congress to continue its strong support of the NEH and the state humanities councils and reject the administration’s proposal.

What’s at Stake?

The NEH is the only federal entity uniquely charged with preserving our nation’s history and cultural heritage, supporting scholarly research and collections, and making humanities resources, including our nation’s founding documents, accessible to current and future generations. NEH also funds the state humanities councils, which extend the reach of the humanities to all 56 states and territories and to nearly every congressional district. By leveraging $4 for every federal dollar they regrant, councils generate millions of dollars for humanities programming that are then invested in local communities across the country.

Without NEH support, councils could not continue to offer programming in the rural, urban, and suburban communities by partnering with thousands of local schools, libraries, veterans’ hospitals, senior centers, religious organizations, social service agencies, local businesses, chambers of commerce, state tourism and economic development offices, and local radio and television stations. Eliminating NEH would rob millions of Americas of the on-the-ground cultural, historical, and educational activities that contribute to community vitality, well-being, and economic development. But you can help prevent that loss!

The Process

It is important to remember that the president’s budget request is just that, a request. We are grateful that the NEH and the state humanities councils have enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Congress, and we will continue to demonstrate the value federal funding brings to local and underserved communities in every state and what would be lost without it. So what’s next?

Now that the president’s budget request has been released and Congress has adopted a two-year budget agreement, the stage is set to begin the FY 2019 appropriations process.  Once the appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate have received their allocations for FY 2019, in mid- to late spring, markups of individual bills can begin.  Because the funding levels established in these bills provide the basis for negotiations throughout the remainder of the process, their development is a key point in the process.  This is where you can have a big impact, especially if you have a member on one of the subcommittees.

The FY 2019 appropriations process will continue at least through the end of September 2019, and the Federation will need your help at each step along the way.  (Subscribe to the Federation Update to stay apprised of all advocacy news.)

4 Ways You Can Help

    1. Contact your congressional members and circulate this message to all supporters within your networks.
    2. Attend Humanities on the Hill, the Federation’s annual advocacy event in early March where humanities councils from across the country will travel to Washington, DC to visit their congressional offices. This helps ensure that favorable funding decisions made by subcommittee members will be bolstered by their colleagues’ support.
    3. Pen a letter to the editor of your local media outlet and share your story about how you or your community has benefitted from public humanities programming.
    4. Get social! Invite your congressional member to a humanities program or event and tell them directly why it’s important to #SavetheNEH. Click here for a list of House and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee members’ Twitter and Facebook handles.

Download the full statement here.