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FreedomWorks' Bill of the Month for March 2018: Defund National Endowment for the Humanities Act, H.R. 5046

FreedomWorks is proud to announce that our bill of the month for March 2018 is the Defund National Endowment for the Humanities Act, H.R. 5046, introduced by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency that dedicates its time to funding research projects, books, and individual scholars. The agency’s stated mission is to promote excellence in the humanities, and convey the lessons of history to all Americans.

As noble as this may sound, the NEH is ripe for wasteful spending, and costs taxpayers millions of dollars every year. That is why this bill would, as its name suggests, would cut off funding from the agency.

Both President Trump, and the Republican Study Committee (RSC) have called for defunding the agency in the past. In a report, the RSC opined, “The federal government should not be in the business of funding the arts. Support for the arts can easily and more properly be found from nongovernmental sources. Eliminating the National Endowment for the Humanities would save taxpayers $148 million per year.”

Many defenders of the NEH mention how small the agency’s budget is in comparison to a national budget that is in the trillions of dollars. However, this is a perfect argument for eliminating the agency’s funding. After passing the fiscally atrocious Bipartisan Budget Act, Congress busted its own discretionary spending caps by almost $300 billion over two years. If House Republicans can’t even get on board with this limited level of fiscal restraint, how can they show their constituents they are serious about tackling the debt?

The NEH also throws money at needless projects all at the expense of the taxpayer. Here are a few examples of NEH’s waste from 2017:

  • $400,000 to find more of the writings of Thomas Edison (the NEH had already compiled 8 volumes that cost a cumulative of $4 million).
  • $250,000 to create a traveling exhibit on the ecological context of Georgia O’Keefe’s artwork that was commissioned by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company.
  • $60,000 to create a traveling exhibit on people linked to the Bristol Bay, Alaska salmon fishery.
  • $40,000 to create a bilingual exhibit on The Day of the Dead.
  • $40,000 to examine the impact of horse-drawn carriages in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Contrary to what the agency might say, these are not pressing matters that impact the future of the country. These are projects that could just as easily be accomplished by private citizens. Rep. Biggs recognized this waste, and is taking what should be an easy step to eliminate nearly $150 million per year in government spending with the Defund National Endowment for the Humanities Act, H.R. 5046.