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AASLH Response to Federal History Funding Cuts

by John Dichtl, President & CEO, AASLH on

Dear Members and Friends of AASLH,

Yesterday, May 23, President Trump sent a FY2018 budget request to Congress that would drastically cut federal history and humanities funding. Both the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) would be quickly phased out, and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) as well as K-12 history and civics grants at the U.S. Department of Education would be eliminated. National Park Service funding for historic preservation and battlefield protection programs would be reduced, the National Heritage Areas would disappear. The National Coalition for History has a chart summarizing how federal history programs will be affected.

Across the field of state and local history organizations, we know these federal programs are intertwined with the work we do every day. There are countless examples of partnerships, programs, resources, and projects that have been made possible by the federal funding and programming agencies that have been targeted.

AASLH will work with allies on both sides of the aisle in Congress to oppose these cuts. We will work with our colleagues at the National Coalition for History, the National Humanities Alliance, and the American Alliance of Museums to encourage members of Congress to stand for history. We also will continue the work of the History Relevance initiative, which underscores the contemporary use of history and historical thinking. And we will remind AASLH members and friends to add your voices at the most effective times in this federal budget fight.

The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) points out that the next step in the process is for Congress to respond to the Administration’s formal request by setting an overall level of discretionary spending through a Congressional Budget Resolution. The Appropriations Committees then assign spending levels to twelve subcommittees, and subcommittees will draft individual spending bills. NHA expects that this work will extend through the summer and reminds us that the Administration’s budget request is only advisory because Congress ultimately makes decisions about funding. “In recent years, the NEH has received strong bipartisan and bicameral support from the appropriations committees, including the increased funding for FY 2017 announced just three weeks ago. While the overall fiscal constraints that the subcommittees will face are still unclear and the budget is likely to be tighter than last year, we are encouraged by this bipartisan support.”

This summer, while Congress works on the budget, it is vital that your Members of Congress hear from you, their constituents. Most effective of all is showing up at their local office. Calling or emailing (calling is best) their DC office is even easier. And you can advocate for funding for NEH and other history/humanities agencies at the NHA’s Take Action web page or use the AAM’s Urgent Appeal for museums page.

I urge you to begin a conversation now with your Members of Congress and to be ready later this summer to remind them of the importance and relevance of history.

Sincerely,

John Dichtl
President & CEO
AASLH

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