The new federal spending bill would spare — and even slightly increase — funding for three arts-related agencies that President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
The agreement announced Monday calls for the CPB’s budget to remain the same, at $445 million. Spending for fiscal 2017 would go up for the NEA and NEH, each from $148 million to $150 million. The three organizations, all started in the 1960s during Lyndon Johnson’s administration, provide money for everything from public television programming to local theaters and scholarly research.
The arts community had denounced Trump’s proposed cuts, which have long been advocated by some conservatives. Trump’s budget director, Mike Mulvaney, had said he couldn’t justify funding at a time when he imagined the struggles of a steelworker in Ohio or a coal miner in West Virginia. “And I’m saying, ‘Can I really go to those folks, look them in the eye, and say, ‘Look, I want to take money from you and I want to give it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’?” he said during a news conference in March.
But members of both parties expressed support for the agencies, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican and Trump supporter, among those saying the NEA should be preserved.
“This agreement is proof of strong, bipartisan support for these vital institutions,” PEN America, the literary and human rights organization, said in a statement. “President Trump’s proposal to defund both Endowments in 2018 has been met with a loud, sustained outpouring of protest from people across the country who benefit from the work that the NEA and NEH do to make arts and culture accessible to more people, support the creation of new scholarships, and drive innovation and creativity.”
The proposed arts budgets are part of a $1 trillion-plus spending bill that would fund most government operations through September. The 1,665-page bill was made public in the pre-dawn hours Monday and is tentatively scheduled for a House vote on Wednesday.