Pingree Leads Successful Effort to Defend Arts, Humanities Funding
Washington, D.C.—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) has led a successful effort to vote down a House proposal that would have slashed federal funding for the arts and humanities, which has been a vital tool for supporting Maine’s creative economy and cultural richness.
An amendment to the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill would have cut 15 percent from the budgets of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—roughly $23 million for each agency. The House voted it down this afternoon 114-297.
Pingree, a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the agencies, spoke in opposition to the cuts during debate last night. She was joined by Congressmen Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Pingree’s co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, and Ken Calvert (R-CA), who chairs the Appropriations Subcomittee on the Interior.
Full text of her remarks below
I rise to speak in opposition to this amendment. The NEA and NEH have strong bipartisan support on our committee, and I had really hoped the days of attacking these agencies were behind us.
Maybe they seem like a good political target for those who don’t understand the ways that the arts and humanities affect our daily lives.
The economic benefits are undeniable – for big cities, small towns, and everywhere in between. The arts and culture industry contributes $764 billion to our economy every year – and the Endowments are uniquely positioned to help smaller, rural areas access that energy in a way that private capital can’t or won’t.
And efforts to reach underserved communities are just as important.
NEA’s Creative Forces program helps servicemembers and veterans manage TBI and PTSD through arts therapy – a cut would majorly impact the program’s reach.
Similarly, NEH has funded popular Veterans Book Clubs that use literature to help process experiences in our military. I’ve been lucky to talk to some participants – this is a deeply meaningful program that, again, is in jeopardy if this proposed cut moves forward.
And, frankly, all of this impact comes at a relatively small price tag.
NEA and NEH use minimal federal investment – just 0.0004 percent of the federal budget – to create jobs, support families, and sustain communities in every Congressional district. We’d be foolish to cut that back.
I strongly oppose this amendment, and I urge all my colleagues to do the same.