Advocacy Alert: Feb. 18, 2011

Legislative Update: Congress Considering FY11 Funding - Anti-Museum Amendments are Possible 

The House of Representatives has been debating a bill this week, H.R. 1, to fund the federal government for the rest of the current fiscal year (FY11), which began on October 1, 2010. (Federal agencies have been operating under a "Continuing Resolution" that keeps the government operating because a federal budget has not yet been enacted for FY11.) 

Nearly 600 amendments proposing cuts to numerous agencies and programs were filed, which means that they could be formally offered as the House continues consideration of the bill. Several of them target museums.

An amendment (#471) was filed by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) to prohibit the use of funds provided by the bill to fund non-federal museums. This could formally be offered at any time. We are monitoring the situation. 

An amendment (#35) was filed by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) to de-fund the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the remainder of FY11. (It appears that this amendment will not be formally offered, but we are continuing to monitor the House Floor, just in case.) 

We wanted to provide this update in the event that either of these amendments - or any similar ones - are offered. For now, we strongly encourage you to call your Congressional Offices and urge them to oppose any amendment that would restrict funds to museums. 

Please call 202-225-3121 and urge your Representative to OPPOSE any amendment to restrict funding for museums. 

When the bill passes the House—expected at some point this weekend—it will then go to the Senate for further consideration. The Senate is likely to take up the bill during the week of February 28, when museum advocates will be convening in Washington, DC, for Museums Advocacy Day.

Already this week, the House voted on an amendment (offered by Rep. Tim Walberg from Michigan) to cut $20.6 million from the National Endowment for the Arts for the remainder of the current fiscal year (FY11). The vote was approved by a 217-209 vote. This is likely to mean some kind of reduction in funding for the agency as the FY11 budget is finalized between the House and Senate. 

In related news, on Monday, President Obama released his FY12 budget proposal, which included cuts for many federal agencies. If the president's budget were adopted by Congress (and there is still a long process ahead of us), the IMLS Office of Museum Services would get $32.3 million (an 8.2% reduction from its current funding level of $35.2 million). The president's budget also called for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to each receive $146 million, which would mean a $21 million cut for each agency. Congress will soon begin work to write its own version of a FY12 budget.