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House of Representatives vote to defund the NEA does not pass

An attempt to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts was thwarted.

(Credit: Mark Reinstein Corbis/Getty Images)

On Nov. 2, the United States House of Representatives gathered for a vote on the fiscal year 2024 Interior Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4821). During the session, Republican Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania sponsored two floor amendments: Amendment 60, to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and Amendment 61, to eradicate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Both amendments were voted down. The amendment to defund the NEA was defeated by a vote of 292-129 with bipartisan support. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans and 100 percent of Democrats voted against the measure.

Next, the original house bill will move to the Senate (without either amendment). However, there is a discrepancy between the funding levels for the NEA and NEH set by the House and the Senate.

The House sets funding for both agencies at $186 million each; the Senate recommends $207 million apiece. According to a mass email communication from the NEA, the agency will be lobbying for the higher level.

Established in 1965, the NEA is an independent federal agency that funds the arts and arts education nationwide. Through grants to arts organizations, programs and partnerships, the NEA advances “equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice” and “fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States.”

Earlier in 2023, President Biden signed a spending bill that included a $27 million budgetary increase over the previous fiscal year.