If it is approved, the increase, which will go to the agency's Challenge America program, would bring the NEA's budget to $131,264,000 for 2006.
According to Back Stage, the increase is intended is to restore funding to Challenge America, which was gutted in the NEA's budget to order to provide $8 million in funding for the American Masterpieces grants. American Masterpieces, which was designed to bring the best of American theater, dance, classical music, jazz, and literature to all 50 states, was scaled back, in its first year, because Congress approved only $2 million for it, rather than the $18 million requested by First Lady Laura Bush. As a result of the limited budget, all programs except for visual art were cut.
Challenge America brings the arts to rural and other underserved areas.
The representatives offering the amendment were Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Christopher Shays (R-CT), Norm Dicks (D-WA), James Leach (R-IA), and David Price (D-NC).
Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA, said, "We're proud that members of the House demonstrated such strong bipartisan support for the value and mission of the Arts Endowment by enthusiastically passing this amendment with a voice vote. Even those who apposed the amendment did so on fiscal grounds and voiced appreciation for the quality and reach of our programs."
The voice vote, rather than the roll-call vote, was taken in order to demonstrate bipartisan support for the budget increase.
The interior-appropriations bill that contains the amendment moves to the Senate at the end of May. A vote on the bill is expected before the Congressional recess for the Fourth of July.