Congress Finally Passes FY 2019 Federal Budget

On February 15, President Trump signed into law a $333 million omnibus appropriations bill (H.J. RES. 31) that will fund the federal government for the remaining seven-and-a-half months of fiscal year 2019 (FY19). Here is a chart showing how programs of interest to our community fared which includes the budget for FY19 and compares it with FY18 and President Trump’s original budget request.

This completes the FY 19 appropriations process since Congress had already passed funding bills for some federal agencies at the start of the fiscal year on October 1. 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.

Click here to see a second second chart that 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 (Note: this summary includes FY 19 funding for all federal agencies not just those funded under the bill signed on February 15. A number of federal agencies had their budgets passed in September 2018 and were not affected by the government shutdown):

  • Unfortunately, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received $373 million for operating expenses an $11.9 million cut from last year’s level of $384.9 million.
  • The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which the president had targeted for elimination, was level funded at $6 million.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) received nearly $155 million in this bill, $2.2 million above the fiscal year 2018 level. The Trump administration had sought to eliminate both the NEH and National Endowment for the Arts in its FY19 request to Congress.
  • The K-12 history and civics programs at the Department of Education received a 37 percent increase despite President Trump’s threat to eliminate them. The Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics received $1.8 million, the same as last year. However, the American History and Civics grants program received $3 million, a substantial increase from $1.7 million in FY18. Together the programs received their highest funding ever at $4.8 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 $2 million funding boost up to $242 million. This is another agency the president had targeted for elimination.
  • The National Park Services’ Historic Preservation Fund will receive $102.6 million this fiscal year, a $5.7 million increase over FY18. Within this amount $49,675,000 is provided for grants to States and $11,735,000 is provided for grants to Tribes. The bill also includes $15,250,000 for competitive grants, of which $750,000 is for grants to underserved communities and $14,500,000 is for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the Civil Rights Movement. The agreement also includes $8,000,000 for competitive grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and $13,000,000 for the Save America’s Treasures competitive grant program for the preservation of nationally significant sites, structures, and artifacts. The bill includes level funding of $20.3 million for the Heritage Partnership Program and continues to provide $5,000,000 for preservation grants to revitalize historic properties of national, State, and local significance in order to restore, protect, and foster economic development of rural villages and downtown areas.
  • The Library of Congress received a robust $26.3 million increase up to $696.1 million for FY19.
  • The Smithsonian Institution was level funded at $1.043 billion. $8.5 million was shifted from the Facilities Capital budget to Salaries and Expenses.
  • The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars received $12 million, the same as last year. The Trump administration had proposed phasing out funding for the center.