Congress Finally Passes FY 2018 Federal Budget

On March 23, Congress approved, and President Trump signed, a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government for the remaining six months of fiscal year 2018 (FY18). Across the board, history, archival and education programs were either level funded or received small increases. This should be considered a major victory, since the president had proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other programs.

Below are links to two charts showing how programs of interest to our community fared. The first chart includes the budget numbers for FY18 and compares them with FY17 and President Trump’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.

Here are the highlights:

  • The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which the president had targeted for elimination, was level funded at $6 million. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received only a $4.3 million increase in operating expenses up to a level of $384.9 million.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) received nearly $153 million in this bill, $3 million above the fiscal year 2017 level. The Trump administration had sought to eliminate both the NEH and National Endowment for the Arts in its FY18 request to Congress.
  • The K-12 history and civics programs at the Department of Education were level funded despite President Trump’s threat to eliminate them. The American History and Civics 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 Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education programs were level funded at $65 million and $7 million respectively for a total of $72 million.
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) received a $9 million funding boost up to $240 million. This is the first significant increase the IMLS has received in some time, and it is even more impressive given the president had targeted the agency for elimination.
  • The National Park Services’ Historic Preservation Fund will receive $97 million this fiscal year, a $16 million increase over FY17. Within this amount, $48.9 million is provided for grants to states and $11.4 million is provided for grants to tribes. The recommendation also includes $13.5 million for competitive grants, of which $500,000 is for grants to underserved communities and $13 million is for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the Civil Rights Movement. The legislation includes $5 million for competitive grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The bill also includes $13 million for the Save America’s Treasures competitive grant program for the preservation of nationally significant sites, structures, and artifacts, a significant increase from $5 million last year.
  • The Smithsonian Institution is funded at $1.043 billion, $180 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. The bulk of the increase will go towards a major, multi-year renovation of the National Air and Space Museum facility on the National Mall.
  • The Library of Congress received a robust $38 million increase up to $670 million for FY18.
  • The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars received $12 million, $1.5 million more than last year. The Trump administration had proposed phasing out funding for the center.