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Fiscal Year 2014 Federal Funding

September 1, 2013. July is traditionally the time of year when the House and Senate get serious (I use that term loosely) about passing appropriations bills in anticipation of the end of the current fiscal year on September 30. As this issue was going to press, Congress was heading out for its annual August recess, and nothing motivates congressional action more than a long summer vacation.

Of course as we all know this legislative frenzy almost never results in Congress actually passing a budget by that deadline. However, both houses pass these fiscal year 2014 bills knowing that they will likely set the parameters for the ultimate budget deal that will be reached at the end of this year (or early next).

Once again the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) at the National Archives faced elimination in the House. However, after zeroing out NHPRC's budget at the subcommittee level, the full House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment offered by Representative David Price (D-NC) to restore $3 million in funding. This came with the full support of the Republican majority.

In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee actually increased the NHPRC's funding from the current year's post-sequester reduction level of $4.75 million to $5 million. The coalition worked with the AHA and our membership groups to lobby appropriators hard for that number and it paid off. In the past, House conferees have acceded to the Senate number. So, optimistically, it looks as though the NHPRC will emerge with level funding for fiscal year 2014, which in the current budget environment is a major accomplishment.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the National Endowment for the Humanities. The House Appropriations Committee has adopted a fiscal 2014 Interior and Environment bill that would slash NEH's funding by 49 percent ($71 million) from the current year's level of $146 million. The Smithsonian Institution is funded at $660 million in the bill, a cut of $155 million (19 percent) below fiscal 2013. In addition, funding for the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars would be eliminated under the bill. While a comparable bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate, this kind of scorched-earth approach towards the NEH in the House is indicative of the difficulties we face in securing humanities- and history-related funding across the board.

We've provided a chart on the NCH website showing the status of funding for history, archival, education, and other programs of interest to our community and updated as new figures become available. -- Lee White, National Coalition for History

Posted: September 1, 2013
Tagged: News of the Profession, Advocacy