Senate Appropriations Committee Provides $120M for Teaching American History Grants

On June 25, 2008, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a Labor, Health and Human Services and Education fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget bill that includes $120 million in funding for the Teaching American History (TAH) grants program at the U.S. Department of Education. This reflects a $2.1 million increase over the FY 2008 funding level of $117.9 million. The Committee rejected the Bush administration’s request that the program be cut to $50 million.

The Senate bill also includes $31.9 million in funding for Civic Education programs, the same amount as FY ’08 despite the Administration’s request for zero funding. The Committee recommended $20 million of that amount be designated for the We the People Program at the Department of Education.

The Senate legislation includes $1.9 million for the Underground Railroad Program, which provides grants to research, display, interpret and collect artifacts related to the history of the Underground Railroad. The Administration had sought to eliminate the program.

Finally, the Senate bill includes $1.9 million to the Department of Education for grants to support Presidential Academies for Teaching of American History and Civics and Congressional Academies for Students of American History.

The same day, the House Appropriations Committee began its markup of the Labor, HHS and Education bill. However, when Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA) attempted to bring up the stalled House Interior Appropriations bill as an amendment to the Labor, HHS bill, Chairman David Obey (D-WI) angrily adjourned the hearing. While the House version of the Labor, HHS and Education bill is now in limbo, the draft bill contains $117.9 million in funding for the TAH program in FY ’09.

In addition, before adjourning the House Appropriations Committee included as part of a manager’s amendment language offered by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) to provide $1 million in funding for the National History Day program. If passed, this would mark the first time that National History Day had received federal funds.

The draft House bill includes $35 million for Civic Education Programs and the same $1.9 million for the Underground Railroad Program.