The U.S. House of Representatives is currently debating the bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the current fiscal year (FY11), which began on October 1, 2010. Of the nearly 600 amendments to the bill (H.R. 1), two in particular have immediate, and potentially highly negative, impact on non-federal museums.
Amendment #471, filed by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), would prohibit the use of funds provided by the bill to fund non-federal museums. This could formally be offered at any time, and is likely to be considered under terms of unanimous consent if not challenged.
Amendment #35, filed by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), would de-fund the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the remainder of FY11. This amendment no longer appears on the unanimous consent agenda, but it bears close attention nonetheless.
I want assure you personally that ASTC is intervening directly in person and in correspondence with legislators with points in support of our members and urging that these amendments be opened for floor debate. In addition, I have attached an ASTC Press Release on the matter and several sample letters that were sent to House leadership. These are only a few of the many letters that we are sending today to key legislators, particularly those who shoulder the responsibilities for education and science and in whose districts our members are located. Again, I would urge that you take just a few moments to call to seek the additional support of your Representatives for your institutions. You can reach your Representative’s office by calling 202-224-3121.
Timing is important in this effort. The House bill is now under review and could pass quickly. In anticipation of an unfortunate passage of one or both of these amendments, we are also preparing a strategy of engagement with Senate leadership as they take up the bill next. Please note that the House has already voted amendments that seriously diminish funds to other relevant agencies (including the National Endowment for the Arts), in amounts greater than those proposed in the President’s budget.
The President’s budget includes strong support for science and for education, and these are areas in which our members provide high value. We will continue to work to ensure that ASTC members are recognized and supported for the full range of assets that they provide to communities that they serve.