Final FY 21 Budget for Federal History-Related Programs

President Trump has signed into law an omnibus appropriations bill which will fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2021.  Click here to access a chart showing how programs of interest to our community fared. It includes the budget for FY 21 and compares it with FY 20 and President Trump’s original FY 21 budget request. Click here to see a second chart that provides funding trends over the past three fiscal years to give some historical perspective.

When viewed from that time frame, the numbers show a general upward trend, except for the National Archives (see explanation below). 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 Historical Publications and Records Commission, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other programs.

  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received $377 million for operating expenses (OE), an $18 million increase from the FY 20 level of $359 million. However, the bill allocates $18 million for NARA as an offset to perform its duties related to the presidential transition. So, it is a wash and NARA’s OE remains the same. $2 million is designated to fund the Civil Rights Cold Case Review Board and $9.2 million is allocated for NARA to continue its records digitization initiative.
  • The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which the president and Senate had targeted for elimination, received level funding of $6.5 million. NCH and its member organizations engaged in a vigorous advocacy campaign to save the NHPRC.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) received $167.5 million, a $5 million increase from the FY 20 level. The Trump administration had sought to eliminate the NEH in its FY 21 request to Congress.
  • K-12 history and civics programs at the Department of Education: Despite President Trump’s threat to eliminate them, federal K-12 history and civics programs were given slight increases in funding. The Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics received $2 million up from $1.8 million last year. The American History and Civics grants program received $3.25 million, up from $3 million in FY 20. The total is $5.25 million up from $4.8 million.
  • Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education programs received modest increases. Title VI (domestic programs) was increased from $68 million to $69.3 million. Fulbright-Hays (overseas programs) was increased by $800,000, up to $8.8 million. Together the programs received $78.1 million. Both programs had been targeted for elimination by the administration.
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) received a $5 million funding boost to $ 257 million. Library Programs received $197.5 million and Museum Programs increased by $2 million up to $40.5 million. This is another agency the president had targeted for elimination.
  • The National Park Services’ Historic Preservation Fund will receive $144.3 million this fiscal year, a substantial $25.6 million increase over FY 20. Within this amount $55.7 million is provided for grants to States and $15 million is provided for grants to Tribes. The bill also includes $21.1 million for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the Civil Rights Movement. The bill includes $10 million for competitive grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and $25 million for the Save America’s Treasures competitive grant program for the preservation of nationally significant sites, structures, and artifacts. The bill includes $23.8 million for the Heritage Partnership Program and provides $7.5 million for competitive preservation grants to revitalize historic properties of national, State, and local significance. The American Battlefield Protection Program saw its budget double from $10 million to $20 million. The Interior bill allocates $8 million to support the ongoing work of the US Semiquincentennial Commission and creates a new $10 million Semiquincentennial grant program to support restoration of State-owned historic sites and structures that honor and interpret the country’s founding, including Revolutionary War battle and commemorative monuments. The commission continues its task of preparing for the commemoration in 2026 of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States.
  • The Library of Congress received a $32 million increase up to $757.3 million for FY 21.
  • The Smithsonian Institution’s budget was reduced by $15.3 million to $1.032 billion. There was a shift of priorities with the Salaries and Expenses budget being increased by $24.4 million ($818 million total) and a reduction of $39.7 million ($214 million total) in the Facilities Capital budget.
  • The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars received $14 million, level funding from last year.