A Senate panel agreed Friday to increase spending for the National Endowment for the Arts instead of cutting off support as the House voted to do last week.
“There was no support - zero support - of the 15 members of this subcommittee to wipe out the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash.
“And I think it’s safe to say this is a rather conservative subcommittee,” he added after his Senate Appropriations subcommittee approved, by voice vote, a $13 billion Interior Department package containing the arts funding.
The increase for the NEA would be small - to $100,060,000 for the year beginning Oct. 1, up from $99.5 million this year. The bill goes to the full Appropriations Committee next week.
If it passes the Senate, negotiators will attempt to work out a compromise between the Senate and House bills.
President Clinton asked for $136 million for the NEA. White House officials have said he would veto the whole Interior Department appropriation unless he is satisfied with how the NEA is treated.
NEA opponents object that some of the work it has subsidized was obscene and blasphemous. They say private donors, not taxpayers, should finance the arts.
“I also believe it (NEA) did many things wrong and very offensive to many thoughtful American people,” Gorton said. “I believe we’ve cured most of that in the last couple of years.”