policy and advocacy
Headlines of the Week
- Congress Faces Crowded Year-End Agenda
12-12-2011: Congress has much to accomplish before the end of the year. Completing work on FY 2012 appropriations, through an omnibus package or another continuing resolution (CR) before the current CR expires December 16 will be among the top priorities. A host of other issues, ranging from a payroll tax cut extension and unemployment benefits to a tax extenders package, which includes the IRA charitable rollover and other giving incentives, are also among the items to be considered before the end of 2011.
- Music Therapy Helping Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Heal
12-05-2011: A recent report by ABC News highlighted the role that music therapy has played in the treatment and recovery of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Watch the incredible video of her therapy, and see how music helps connect both the left and right sides of the brain. Arts and healing, including music therapy, is one of the many program areas of Americans for the Arts.
- Threat to Charitable Incentives Postponed as Supercommittee Delays Action
11-21-2011: The congressional supercommittee negotiating a possible deficit reduction has failed to come to an agreement. With this deadline passing, any current proposals that include changes to the charitable deduction are unlikely to see action soon.
- Charitable Deduction Remains Threatened as Supercommittee Deadline Nears
11-14-2011: The charitable deduction remains under scrutiny as the Deficit Reduction Supercommittee looks for ways to raise revenues and close the federal deficit gap. A recent plan floated by one of the Republican members was reported to have suggested changes or elimination of the deduction. While the proposal is just one of many ideas being considered for deficit reduction revenues, it serves as a stark reminder that almost all policy measures are on the table as the joint committee struggles to find middle ground.
- Federal Transportation Enhancement Program Threatened
11-07-2011: The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently released a transportation authorization bill (S.1813) titled, "Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century (MAP21)", which includes several changes to the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. The TE program is administered through the U.S. Department of Transportation at about 10 percent of the annual funding for federal surface transportation programs. Many of these enhancement projects include significant arts components—ranging from public art to historic preservation and scenic beautification. Among the changes offered in the draft bill text is a termination of eligibility for transportation museums and landscaping programs—currently included among the 12 categories that can be funded. Americans for the Arts produced a Federal Resource Guide on this program in 2006 and is currently working with other national arts groups to provide a response to this legislative development.
- Senate Subcommittee Proposes Level Funding for NEA
10-31-2011: The Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Chairman Jack Reid (D-RI) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), proposed level funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities at $155 million for FY 2012. This draft appropriations bill is not expected to be considered by the full committee as time is running out for Congress to complete FY12 appropriations work, and they are likely heading towards an omnibus agreement rolling all spending bills into one.
- Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing to Explore Charitable Tax Reform
10-24-2011: On October 18, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT), held a hearing on tax reform and charitable giving. In their testimony, witnesses provided support for charitable deductions to the nonprofit sector and also specifically mentioned the importance of supporting the arts. Watch an archive of the hearing and read the witness testimony here.
- Senate Committee Scheduled to Mark Up Draft Education Reform Bill This Week
10-17-2011: The top ranking senators on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), announced an agreement to move forward with bipartisan education reform legislation. The full committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the bill this week, and many amendments are expected to be offered to this draft bill.
- White House Proclaims October as National Arts and Humanities Month
10-04-2011: National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) is a coast-to-coast celebration of culture in America. Held every October and coordinated by Americans for the Arts, NAHM is the largest annual celebration of the arts and humanities in the nation. President Obama has issued a White House proclamation that recognizes the value of the arts and humanities and kicks off this month’s celebrations.
- Congress Down to the Wire to Pass Short-Term Funding Bill
09-26-2011: With the end of FY 2011 approaching on September 30 and all appropriations bills still unfinished, Congress needs to work quickly to come to an agreement extending funding for the short term. Lawmakers are hopeful that they can pass legislation to keep all federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, operating through mid-November, giving them more time to work on a long-term solution and the greater debt limit debate. If they do not pass a continuing resolution by the end of the month, the government may face a shutdown.
- President Obama's Proposed Tax Reform in Budget Plan May Affect Charitable Giving
09-19-2011: The Obama administration has recently released the American Jobs Act, which attempts to address sagging job growth with a combination of tax and spending policies aimed at encouraging private sector hiring. As part of the proposal, the administration has once again recommended capping itemized deductions at 28 percent (down from 35 percent) for gifts to charity for the highest earning brackets. Read this Washington Post article for more information on the potential impact the nonprofit arts sector fears these reforms could have on charitable giving.
- Celebrate National Arts in Education Week! September 11 - 17, 2011
09-12-2011: Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring the week following the second Sunday of September as Arts in Education Week. Visit our website to find ways you can get involved and promote arts education in your community this week and check out our arts education blog salon.
- Time Running Out for Congressional FY 2012 Appropriations Process
09-05-2011: This week, Congress returns from their August recess to resume work on the FY 2012 appropriations process, as they have yet to complete any of the yearly funding bills. With only 11 working days scheduled before the start of the the next fiscal year on October 1, it seems likely that Congress will need to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, operating at the previous year's levels while they work out a long-term funding bill.
- Deficit Reduction "Super Committee" May Impact Charitable Deduction
08-29-2011: When Congress returns from recess in September, the 12 members of the House and Senate making up the newly appointed “super committee” will begin to discuss new deficit reduction policy changes. While it is unclear what the final proposal will look like, some have included changes to the charitable deduction. Americans for the Arts has joined Independent Sector and other organizations from across the nonprofit sector in expressing concern and will continue to monitor these proposals.
- Congress in Recess for August
08-22-2011: Congress has recessed for its summer district work period for the month of August and will return on Wednesday, September 7 to continue work on appropriations legislation for FY 2012. Neither the House nor the Senate have approved the FY 2012 Interior bill, which would fund the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. The process will be further delayed as Congress must now also consider the cuts required by the debt limit deal and how they will impact this year's budget.
- Americans for the Arts Signs Letter in Support of Charitable Deduction
08-15-2011: Americans for the Arts has joined Independent Sector and more than 150 other organizations in a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders urging them to reject proposals to limit the value of itemized deductions for charitable donations. As Congress continues to work on debt reduction solutions, Americans for the Arts remains vigilant on the impact these proposals could have on the charitable sector. Read the full-page ad that ran in Politico.
- White House Features Champions of Change for Arts Education
08-08-2011: The Champions of Change initiative, started earlier this year, focuses on different leaders in different subjects and initiatives each week, including veterans, NASA innovators, AIDS researchers, and leaders in small business and clean energy. During the week of July 25, the White House focused on leaders in the field of arts education. Americans for the Arts was proud to serve as one of the organizations that assisted the White House and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in nominating some of the Champions that were selected. You can see the profiles of the champions on the White House website.
- U.S. House Rejects Amendment to Further Cut NEA Funding
08-01-2011: The amendment to the House Interior Appropriations bill proposed by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) that would have cut an additional $10.6 million from the National Endowment for the Arts failed by a vote of 240-181 last week. See how your representative voted here. The next step is for the entire House Interior bill to be completed and voted on with the committee-set appropriation of $135 million for the NEA in the legislation. It is unclear when that will occur.
- NEA Funding Cut to Head to U.S. House Floor This Week
07-25-2011: The Interior Appropriations bill, which proposes to reduce NEA funding by $20 million to $135 million for FY 2012, is scheduled to head to the U.S. House floor this week as the next step in the funding process. On the House floor, the bill could be subject to amendments to increase the cut even further or eliminate the NEA altogether.
- Full U.S. House Appropriations Committee Approves $20 million Cut for NEA
07-18-2011: The full U.S. House Appropriations Committee passed FY 2012 budget legislation that included a $20 million cut in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts from the agency's FY 2011 level of $155 million.
- U.S. House Subcommittee Proposes $20 Million Cut to NEA Funding
07-11-2011: The U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee began the funding cycle for Fiscal Year 2012 by approving legislation to fund the NEA at $135.2 million, which is a reduction of $20 million from the current year. If enacted, it would be the deepest cut to the NEA in 16 years. Please take two minutes to send a customizable message to your member of Congress calling on them to reject these funding cuts.
- House Subcommittee Scheduled to Take NEA Budget Action This Week
07-04-2011: The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee will meet this week to discuss its yearly appropriations bill, which includes funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. The mark-up is scheduled for July 7, and will be the first action on FY 2012 budgets for the subcommitte.
- House Interior Subcomittee Scheduled to Take First FY 2012 Budget Action
06-27-2011: The FY 2012 budget cycle is scheduled to kick off next week when the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee will meet to discuss its yearly funding bill. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. The mark-up is scheduled for July 6, and will be the first action on FY 2012 appropriations for the subcommittee.
- Congressional Arts Caucus Grows to 185 Members
06-20-2011: The Congressional Arts Caucus has added four new members bringing its current total to 185. New members are Reps. Ted Deutsch (D-FL), Brian Higgins (D-NY), David McKinley (R-WA) and Tom Petri (R-WI). See the full list of members here.
- Congressional Budget Office Releases New Study on the Charitable Deduction
06-13-2011: As the Obama administration and Congress wrestle with reviving the economy and addressing long-term deficit reduction, tax treatment of certain exemptions and deductions have come into question as a means of increasing federal revenue, such as the Charitable Deduction. The nonprofit sector is closely tracking charitable giving developments to ensure preservation of private giving incentives that potentially impact arts and culture. A recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study provided new data suggesting changes to the Charitable Deduction could have a profound effect on the giving community. This is the first such study by the CBO which Congress relies heavily on to make informed policy decisions. Read the full study here.
- House Committee Votes to Terminate 43 Education Programs Including Arts Education
06-06-2011: The House Education and Workforce Committee approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that terminates 43 U.S. Department of Education programs, including the Arts in Education program. Visit our ARTSBlog for the full story.
- Vote Expected on Legislation Calling for Termination of Federal Arts Education Programs
05-23-2011: This week, legislation proposed by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) calling for the termination of 43 education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, including arts education, is expected to be brought to a vote this week in the House Education and Workforce Committee. Americans for the Arts is working closely with congressional staff to provide members of Congress with talking points on the importance of arts education to students and the critical role this program has had in supporting arts education throughout the country.
- Arts in Education Programs Challenged in House Legislation
05-16-2011: House Education Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has introduced an education reform bill that would eliminate 43 programs at the U.S. Department of Education including the Arts in Education program. This is the first in a possible series of ESEA reform legislation that may be introduced in the coming months. Americans for the Arts staff will continue working to support the Arts In Education program and keep advocates up to date about the status.
- President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities Releases Arts Education Report
05-09-2011: The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) released its report Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools. In addition to the summary report findings, PCAH hosted a panel discussion on arts education featuring Kaya Henderson, Acting Chancellor, DC Public Schools; Gene Wilhoit, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers; and Ted Leonsis, former President of AOL, Internet entrepreneur, and investor.
- New U.S. Department of Education Arts Education Report Released
05-02-2011: Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on Education Statistics is releasing the preview of a study on the national status and condition of arts education. It has been almost a decade since the last one was published! The full study is scheduled to be released by the end of 2011 and will be a key measurement of access to arts education.
- 61 Members Sign Letter in Support of NEA
04-25-2011: Rep. Louise Slaughter circulated a letter in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for $167.5 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. This letter, called a "Dear Colleague", is an important measure of support, and 61 Members of Congress have signed on to urge their fellow legislators to support the arts in the upcoming FY 2012 appropriations process. Read the letter and see the list of signatories here.
- $155 Million for NEA in Final Budget Deal
04-18-2011: The final FY 2011 budget negotiated by President Obama with House and Senate leaders includes $155 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. This represents a cut of $12.5 million from the FY 2010 enacted level of $167.5 million, which is significantly greater than the previous House-approved level of $124.4 million. Also included in this bill is $25.5 million in funding for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, which had been zeroed-out in a previous continuing resolution.
- National Arts Advocacy Day on Tuesday
04-04-2011: National Arts Advocacy Day is April 5, 2011 in Washington DC. Hundreds of grassroots advocates from across the country will come together in support of the arts and arts education. Ovation CEO Charles Segars and actor Kerry Washington are honorary co-chairs of the event. If you are not able to attend, you can follow the action at #AAD11 on Twitter.
- Arts Funding Threatened as Congressional Disagreements Cloud Funding Picture
03-28-2011: The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have failed to compromise between competing proposals that would finalize the unfinished FY 2011 budget. The House recently passed a long-term FY 2011 continuing resolution (CR) that slashed spending for, among other things, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) by $43 million; eliminated Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education; and terminated funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Senate responded with a plan that would maintain the current NEA funding level of $167.5 million and restored much of the funding eliminated for other cultural programs. However, the Senate has failed to pass a long-term budget solution for FY 2011. As final negotiations continue, both the House and Senate have approved another short-term CR to keep the government running through mid-April.
- Termination of NEA Included in Massive Budget Reduction Proposal
01-31-2011: The Republican Study Committee recently released a legislative proposal that calls for terminating programs and agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Arts in Education, funds for Community Development Block Grants, and funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting among more than 100 other programs slated for elimination. At this point, it is unclear how or when cuts to these programs might be proposed throughout the budget process this year, but Americans for the Arts will continue monitoring these issues.
- Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) Named Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
01-17-2011: The Republicans in the House of Representatives have recently announced which members will take over as chairs of the different committees. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) has been named the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, and will have jurisdiction over funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. See the full list of appropriations subcommittee chairs and committee members here.
- Continuing Resolution Funds FY 2011 Appropriations at FY 2010 Levels through March 4
01-10-2011: Before the end of 2010, Congress passed another continuing resolution to keep all federal programs and agencies operating at 2010 funding levels until March 4, 2011. At that time, the newly sworn-in 112th Congress will need to finalize the budget for FY 2011 appropriations, as well as begin the process for FY 2012.