In a major step toward the Republican goal of dismantling federal support for cultural institutions, the House of Representatives Tuesday approved legislation to slash spending for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities by about 40 percent.
The bill, which is designed to begin carrying out a plan to abolish the arts endowment in two years and the humanities endowment in three, was approved on a 244-181 vote.
“In two years the NEA would no longer exist,” said Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, an architect of an agreement between GOP leaders and younger conservatives to support separate legislation to abolish the arts endowment one year earlier than the three-year phaseout earlier planned.
“In two years, it’s over.”
As approved by the House, the bill would provide $99.5 million for each endowment in the coming fiscal year - down from current year budgets of $162 million for the arts endowment and $172 million for the humanities.
Supporters of the agency now are turning their attention to the Senate, where moderate GOP supporters of the endowments have more influence and a key committee is expected Wednesday to consider legislation that would keep the endowments alive.