|Congress Toils over 2014 Budget after Federal Shutdown|
On October 16, the federal government shutdown came to a close when leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate were able to reach an agreement with President Obama. The deal provides funding for the federal government until January 15, while also providing some certainty to the financial markets by extending the nation’s borrowing authority until February 7.
Perhaps the most important component of the deal is that the legislation compels leaders from the House and Senate to meet in conference to negotiate differences between the two chambers over spending levels for the current fiscal year (2014). When the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution earlier this year, it called for significant reductions in spending, while the Senate in passing its resolution proposed a combination of cuts and new taxes. The legislation ending the government shutdown requires the 29 House and Senate members comprising the conference committee to work with each other to try to reach a compromise by December 15—a compromise that both chambers hopefully can use as the basis for a formal appropriations bill to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. To date, comments from committee members have not been positive, but recent history demonstrates that if there is a deal to be reached, it likely will come at the 11th hour.
NASAA and other arts advocates are in close contact with our allies in Congress as these discussions continue. In its budget for FY2014, the House of Representatives proposed funding the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at $75 million (the current funding level is $139 million after taking into account the mandatory cuts known as sequestration). The Senate, meanwhile, proposed an increase in funding to $155 million. NASAA greatly appreciates the Senate's support for the NEA and is working with our allies to build support for that figure in the House of Representatives.
NASAA will continue to monitor these issues closely and let you know about significant developments. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to give me a call at 202-540-9162 or email me with any questions.