Those who thought the National Endowment for the Arts' (NEA) road to being funded would be less bumpy this year better think twice. Anti-NEA forces in the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to fashion a rule which would send the Interior appropriations bill to the House floor with no money allotted for the agency.
Things looked deceptively rosy for the NEA in June, when, after the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee awarded no money to the agency, the full committee reestablished funding at $98 million. However, upon the bill's reaching the House Rules Committee, Republican leaders reiterated their commitment to various right wing groups to eliminate the agency. As a result, conservative members of the Rules Committee are reportedly at work constructing a new rule which would prevent an Interior bill complete with NEA monies from proceeding to the House floor. The Rules Committee, chaired by Gerald B.H. Solomon (R-NY) is made up of 9 Republicans and 4 Democrats.
The NEA, like many government organizations, is not an authorized organization. As such, it technically can not be funded. This technicality, however, has little practical meaning and is routinely waived.
The Senate, traditionally more supportive of the NEA, has set agency funding at $100 million for fiscal year 1999.
Last year, 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 resolved in conference. -- By Robert Simonson