Trump Signs Federal Spending Bill Boosting NEA, NEH Arts Funding Despite De-Funding Threats

Donald Trump
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump photographed in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

For the second straight year, President Trump proposed to eliminate federal funding for arts programs and public media and broadcasting as part of the government's budget plan for the next year. And, for the second straight year, he failed -- and funding will actually increase for arts programs in the proposed spending bill the president signed on Friday (March 23), helping to avoid another possible government shutdown at the 11th hour.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) -- the latter of which funds public television and public radio stations -- will all receive full funding in the final version of the federal spending plan revealed this week, with the NEA and NEH each receiving $152.8 million and the CPB receiving $445 million. For the NEA and NEH, that represents a $3 million boost apiece from the prior year's budget.

The spending bill further allows $20 million for "costs associated with replacing and upgrading the public broadcasting interconnection system and other technologies and services that create infrastructure and efficiencies within the public media system." At a combined total of $465 million, the CPB's level of funding will remain flat year-over-year.

In February, Trump released his proposed budget for the next year, which suggested slashing the CPB's funding from $445 million down to just $15 million, which CPB president and CEO Patricia Harrison said in a statement at the time would "devastate, and then ultimately destroy" the organization's mission. In another statement, PBS president/CEO Paula Kerger stressed that CPB's total funding amounts to "a modest investment of about $1.35 per citizen per year."

Elsewhere in Trump's February proposal, he put forward a plan with the ultimate goal of seeing the NEA and NEH "begin shutting down," slashing funding for the NEA to $29 million and the NEH to $42 million. Last year, he proposed similar cuts to funding for the arts and public media budgets; ultimately, Congress opted to fully fund the CPB and bump funding for the NEA and NEH up $2 million apiece. With this year's budget, those programs have seen their funding increase by $5 million apiece in the two years Trump has been in office.

The spending bill, which will fund the U.S. federal government through September, passed both houses of Congress on Thursday (March 22), leaving it up to the president to sign it and keep the government open. On Friday morning, the president tweeted about possibly vetoing the spending bill over its lack of funding for his border wall and blaming democrats for their failure to include a plan to deal with the 800,000 DACA recipients.

"There are a lot of things I'm unhappy about in this bill, there are a lot of things that we shouldn't have had in this bill, but we were in a sense forced if we want to build our military," Trump said at a White House press conference on Friday afternoon, vowing to "never" sign another bill like it again.

Regardless of the tweets, Trump is still expected to sign the $1.3 trillion Omnibus spending bill, which you can pore through here.