Trump Proposes Cuts and Elimination of Federal History and Humanities Programs in FY 21 Budget

On February 10, the White House released its detailed budget request to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2021. As has become the norm since taking office, the president’s budget proposes devastating cuts to federal humanities and history funding. These include elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, history and preservation programs at the National Park Service and federal K-12 history/civics and international education programs.  To see a chart showing proposed budgets for agencies and programs affecting history archives, and historic preservation click here.


The only major increase in funding is +$59.5 million for the Library of Congress up to $778.8 million.

Agencies or Programs Targeted for Elimination:

  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • National Historical Publications & Records Commission @ National Archives
  • Civil Rights Cold Case Initiative @ National Archives
  • K-12 American History & Civics Grants and Academies
  • Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education Programs
  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • National Park Service: Heritage Partnership Program. Under the Historic Preservation Fund: Competitive Grants, Historic Revitalization Grants, and Save America’s Treasures. $3.3 million each in funding provided in FY20 for the US Semiquincentennial Commission and the 400 Years of African-American History Commission is eliminated.


  • National Archives Operating Expenses -$2.1 million to $356.9 million
  • National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund -$77 million to $38.6 million.
  • National Recreation and Preservation Fund -$38.6 million to $33 million
  • American Battlefield Protection Program -$3 million to $10 million

The major point to remember is that Congress ultimately controls appropriations, not the president. Leaders of both parties have pronounced Trump’s FY21 budget “dead on arrival,” and these draconian cuts are unlikely to pass. Quite simply, the president is appealing to his base by paying lip service to downsizing the government, while not proposing a realistic budget for Congress to use as a starting point.

Our community can and should fight vigorously against these proposed cuts, but there is no need to panic. We need to focus our attention, as we always have, on the appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over the programs that affect our constituents. The budget process is complex, and NCH will be advocating for history-related agencies every step of the way. We have built lasting relationships in Congress over the years that we can draw upon, including the History Caucus in the House.

Your voice had an impact the last three fiscal years. The House and Senate appropriations committees have ignored Trump’s previous proposed cuts and continued to fund our key programs and agencies at generally close to level or increased funding. We need to keep up the pressure on Congress to ensure the same outcome this year.

Once again, in collaboration with our colleagues at the National Humanities Alliance, we will soon be issuing our initial legislative alerts asking you to contact your Members of Congress. We will try not to overload you with similar requests, but when we do be assured it is important for you to act promptly.