Eschewing the House of Representatives' attempt to "zero out" the National Endowment for the Arts, the Senate's Interior Appropriations Committee has set NEA funding at $100 for the coming fiscal year. The amount is $2 million more than that allotted for the agency by the corresponding committee in the House. The NEA overcame its first budget battle of the year last week when an amendment introduced in the House full committee by Congressman David Obey (D-WI) re-funded the agent at $98. On June 18, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets funding for the NEA, repeated its action of last year by allotting the agency no money for the fiscal year. The Subcommittee is chaired by Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), a persistent foe of the NEA. Despite Regula's move, however, the agency is in a considerably better position than it was last year, when the budget bill reached the House floor with no money earmarked for the NEA. At that time, the House Rules Committee had attached a proviso to the bill precluding the introduction of any amendment which might re-fund the NEA. The matter dragged on into late fall and was eventually solved in conference.
The current budget bill is expected to reach the House floor for a vote on July 16.
--By Robert Simonson