A bill approved by the House of Representative's committee on appropriations would cut funding for a number of cultural organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, whose budget would be slashed to $75 million for the 2014 fiscal year, a 49% decrease from the agency's funding for 2013 before the budget sequester.
The proposed NEA cuts are part of an across-the-board reduction in federal spending that was put forward this week by the committee, which is led by Republican Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky. The bill calls for an overall federal spending cut of 19%.
The House Appropriations Committee's proposal for the NEA is at odds with President Obama's request for $154.5 million in funding for the arts agency in his fiscal 2014 budget, announced in April. The committee is also proposing spending cuts of 19% for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.
The National Endowment for the Humanities would receive a cut equivalent to the NEA's under the proposal. In addition, it calls for zero funding of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which is overseeing plans to build a memorial to the 34th president designed by architect Frank Gehry.
The advocacy group Americans for the Arts said that the cuts to NEA funding are "significantly disproportionate" to the rest of the budget. The group also said that cuts of this magnitude would end the agency's ability to fund grants in every congressional district.
Americans for the Arts said that the committee's proposed cuts to the NEA would bring the agency's funding down to a level not seen since 1974.
Rogers said in a prepared statement that the legislation "seeks to protect vital programs that directly affect the safety and well-being of Americans, while dramatically scaling back lower-priority, or 'nice-to-have' programs."
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