In an overwhelming 297–114 vote on Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives denied an attempt by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) to slash funding for the the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by 15 percent, indicating bipartisan support for arts agencies that President Trump has targeted for elimination in the past. But despite repeated threats to the organizations, Congress has now rejected such proposals two years in a row, and the 2018 budget slightly increased funding to the arts agencies, bringing the total sum at the NEA and NEH’s disposal to $152.8 million each.
A report in Variety notes that despite the president’s open disdain for the arts organizations, Republicans were nearly evenly split, with labor unions supporting the funding as it provides jobs in a number of struggling regions. Paul E. Almeida, who is president of the Department for Professional Employees at the AFL-CIO, testified that the “the economic pain of reduced federal arts funding will be felt most acutely in small towns and rural communities, far from the soundstages of Hollywood and bright lights of Broadway.” Other Republican Congressmen stressed that the groups also help struggling veterans through arts therapy.
In response to the vote, Robert Lynch, the president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, called the lopsided count “one of the largest vote margins in support of the NEA and NEH ever.” He added: “This bipartisan showing and resounding vote is a testament to the good work of the federal agencies and the power of the arts in our communities, schools, lives, and work.”