Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to eliminate the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives. H.R. 2531, the “Stop Wasting Archive Grants Act of 2011,” was introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
Chaffetz introduced a bill during the previous session of Congress to restrict the grant-making authority of the NHPRC. During an oversight hearing on the NHPRC in June 2010, Chaffetz attempted to discredit the witnesses from the historical and archival communities, and made numerous unsubstantiated claims about grants he alleged had received NHPRC funding in the past. He maintained that the NHPRC duplicates existing programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Last year, legislation to reauthorize the NHPRC at a $20 million level from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2015, died in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
On June 23, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee cleared a bill (H.R. 2434, H. Rept. 112-136) providing only $1 million for the NHPRC in fiscal year (FY) 2012. That figure constitutes a 90% reduction from the FY ’11 funding level of $7 million and is $4 million less than the Obama administration’s request for the NHPRC. The House is not expected to take up H.R. 2434 until after the upcoming August recess.
Representative Chaffetz would likely be prohibited from offering his bill as an amendment when the Financial Services and General Government FS & GG) FY ‘12 appropriations bill comes to the House floor. Any Member can raise a point of order questioning whether an amendment is considered “legislating on an appropriations bill” which is prohibited under House rules. Repealing an existing law falls under that restriction. However, nothing would prohibit Chaffetz from offering an amendment to strip the $1 million in proposed FY ’12 funding for the NHPRC.