The House Appropriations Committee recently completed its markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. The bill includes $843.7 million in funding for the Library of Congress. This is $15.2 million more than FY 23 and $51.5 million less than the Biden administration’s FY 24 request.
During consideration of the bill, the Republican majority included committee report language that directs the Librarian of Congress to produce a design concept for an exhibit on “American exceptionalism.” The language states, “The Committee believes that the American public would benefit from an exhibition on the exceptional contributions of Americans throughout history,” The amendment does not define “American exceptionalism” leaving the Librarian discretion to determine what it entails. The Librarian is required to submit the report within 90 days of enactment of the bill.
The legislation also includes “divisive concepts” language that prohibits funding for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. In addition, it prohibits funding for “discriminatory actions against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief, or moral conviction, that marriage is, or should be recognized as, a union of one man and one woman.”
The Committee recommends $1,500,000 for continuation of the COVID–19 American History Project Act, an educational and commemorative program that collects, preserves, and makes available to the public an archive of submitted oral stories of those who were impacted by the COVID–19 pandemic.
The House is expected to take up the FY 24 Legislative Branch bill in July. The Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee has not scheduled a markup of its version of the bill. The House language would need to be adopted by the Senate Appropriation Committee and/or included in a final FY 24 omnibus funding bill in conference. So it is a long way from being enacted.
NCH will be closely monitoring the situation and reaching out to the Senate Appropriations Committee to oppose inclusion of the “American exceptionalism” and “divisive concepts” language. At an appropriate time, NCH will also be asking our members to contact their Members of Congress in opposition.