U.S. President Donald Trump is once again moving to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In his proposed federal government budget for fiscal year 2020, formally unveiled last week but outlined in detail on Monday, Trump called for a record $4.75 trillion budget, which would provide an extra $8.6 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a nearly 5% boost to military spending overall, and allocations of $29 million and $38 million for the NEA and the NEH, respectively, “to begin shutting down” both agencies. In 2019, each of the agencies was allocated a budget of $155 million, despite similar calls from Trump in his 2018 and 2019 budget proposals for their elimination.
In the “Major Savings and Reforms” document accompanying Trump’s 2020 budget proposal—itself formally titled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First.”—the president calls for eliminating the NEA, NEH, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, and Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, as well as reducing the budget for the U.S. Institute of Peace by more than half. Trump’s budget document argues that private, corporate, and foundation support for the arts, as well as crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter, can make up the funding shortfall from shuttering the NEA. It concludes: “The Administration believes audiences and aficionados are better than the Government at deciding what art is good or important.”
The president’s proposed federal budget has no legislative weight in and of itself, but is considered more of a public indication of a president’s priorities. The U.S. federal budget for 2020 will ultimately be decided by Congress.