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Trump Signs Spending Bill that Increases Funding for NEA and NEH

Despite President Donald Trump’s plans to eliminate the National Endowments of the Arts and Humanities, he signed a $1.3 trillion federal spending bill on Friday that allotted $152.8 million to both agencies, which is $3 million more than each of their budgets for the last fiscal year. While the NEA and NEH, as well as the Institute of Museum and Library Services are safe for now, they are still in danger of being slashed in the president’s 2019 budget proposal.

“This is not a small victory for American artists,” musician Blake Morgan wrote on Twitter. Earlier this month, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the NEA released a report that found that the arts contribute $763.6 billion to the US economy, which is more than the agriculture, transportation, or warehousing industries. It also stated that the cultural sector employs $4.9 million workers across the country who earn more than $370 billion.

NEA chairman Jane Chu said that the report was “hard evidence” of how and where arts and culture contribute value to the economies of communities throughout the nation. She added, “The data confirm that the arts play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share.”

According to a statement issued by the NEH today, the spending bill praised the agency for its grant programs that benefit military veterans and their families; work with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to preserve cultural and linguistic heritage; new infrastructure-building grant category; and support for local and regional humanitarian initiatives.

“With this funding, NEH will be able to aggressively support essential cultural infrastructure projects across the country, said the recently appointed senior deputy chairman of the NEH, Jon Parrish Peede. “Our federal dollars play a catalytic role in generating local investment and sustainable economic development.”

Congress had approved the bill this morning after the House voted 265 to 167 in favor of it on Thursday. Trump had first threatened to veto the bill just hours before the government was set to shut down, but he backpedaled on the idea. The 2,232-page bill funds the government for the 2018 fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2017.

According to the Washington Post, the bill includes $1.6 billion for improvements to the existing Mexican border wall, with the stipulation that none of the funds will be used for the construction of a new one; $680 million for the protection of future elections; and $700 billion for defense. It also increases support for school safety measures and opioid abuse protection. Government funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will remain at $465 million, and there will also be no cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. Ultimately, the bill will add to the national debt, bringing it to a whopping $21 trillion.