At press time, not a single appropriations bill for fiscal year 2003 had been presented to President George W. Bush for his signature. Indeed, the House-Senate conference committee was still debating amendments to the Interior Appropriations Bill, which includes funds for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). As reported in the September 2002 issue of CAA News, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment last July to increase funding by $10 million for the NEA (for a total of $127 million) and $5 million for the NEH (for a total of $131.9 million) over President Bush’s fiscal year 2003 budget request; however, it is not at all clear that the Senate will agree to these increases. Congress will most likely finish work on a majority of the spending bills, including the Interior Appropriations Bill, after the November elections.
In addition to appropriations bills, there are a number of other legislative initiatives ready for a vote, including the Museum and Library Services Act of 2002 (H.R. 3784), a reauthorization measure for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
The existing authorization for the agency was scheduled to expire on September 30, 2002. Both the House and Senate have finished work on the reauthorization bill, but it is currently stalled in the House. Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), chairman of the Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Select Education, wrote a letter to the House leadership, calling on them to schedule a vote on this important measure before the current IMLS authorization expired. A vote had not been scheduled at press time.