GOP blocks NEA increase – Would have been first since ‘92

House Republicans succeeded Thursday in blocking a proposal to give the National Endowment for the Arts its first significant budget increase since 1992, the Associated Press reported June 15.

Arts advocates had won a preliminary 207-204 vote to set aside $15 million to be added to the $98 million budget proposed by a fiscal 2001 spending bill.

Republican leaders headed off the increase, however, by adding an amendment that diverted the $15 million to Indian health services.  That amendment was passed by voice vote, with most representatives unwilling to deny money for health programs serving some of the poorest Americans.

Some Democrats accused Republicans of using Indians as a ploy in their attacks on the NEA. 

Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., however, who sponsored the amendment, cited budget constraints and insisted that his bill was designed to help Indians rather than hurt the arts.

The arts endowment will now look to the Senate for help.  The Senate has not yet drafted a spending bill, but normally provides more for the arts than does the House.

President Clinton has requested $150 million for the arts for fiscal 2001.

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