Congress Finally Passes FY 2017 Federal Budget

On May 4, Congress approved a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year (FY) 2017. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. Across the board, history, archival and education programs were either level funded or received small increases. This should be considered a victory given the current budget climate.

Below are links to two charts showing how programs of interest to our community fared. The first chart includes the budget numbers for FY17 and compares them with FY16 and President Obama’s original budget request. The second provides funding trends over the past three fiscal years to give some historical perspective. When viewed from that time frame, in most cases the numbers actually show a general upward trend.

FY 17 Final vs. FY 16 and President’s Request

FY 15-17 three-year budget trends

Here are some highlights:

  • Of particular note is increased funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which has been a perpetual target for reduction or elimination. For FY 17 it received a robust 20 percent increase in funding from $5 million to $6 million. The National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) received only a $1.2 million increase in operating expenses up to a level of $380.6 million.
  • The new K-12 history and civics programs at the Department of Education were funded, but at an amount well below their authorized level of $6.56 million. The grants program received $1.7 million and the Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics received $1.8 million for a total of $3.5 million.
  • The National Park Services’ Historic Preservation Fund will receive $81 million this fiscal year, a $15.6 million increase over FY 16. Within this amount, $47,925,000 is provided for grants to States and $10,485,000 is provided for grants to Tribes. The recommendation also includes $13,500,000 for competitive grants of which $500,000 is for grants to underserved communities and $13,000,000 is for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the Civil Rights Movement. The agreement also includes $4,000,000 for competitive grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and $5,000,000 for the Save America’s Treasures competitive grant program for preservation of nationally significant sites, structures, and artifacts.
  • National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities – The bill includes $150 million for each of the endowments, $2 million above the fiscal year 2016 level. The Trump administration has already indicated its intention to eliminate both the NEH and NEA in its FY 18 request to Congress.
  • Smithsonian Institution – The Smithsonian Institution is funded at $863 million, $23 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. The increases will improve the long-term storage of collections and increase security.
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) was essentially level funded at $231 million.
  • The Library of Congress received a robust $32 million increase up to $632 million in FY 17.
  • Despite a Senate appropriations bill that would have gutted their funding, the Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education programs were level funded at $65 million and $7 million respectively.
  • Eisenhower Memorial Commission –The bill provides $45 million for long-delayed construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial off the National Mall in Washington, DC, and directs the Commission to use prior year funds to begin site preparation.