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Write to your Congressional Representative Now

This just in over the newswire:

Appropriations Committee Introduces Three Week Continuing Resolution Bill will Prevent Government Shutdown, Cut $6 Billion in Spending
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government at current rates for three weeks –until April 8 – while cutting $6 billion in spending. The legislation (H.J. Res 48) is the second short-term funding extension to prevent a government shutdown while Congressional negotiations continue on a long-term plan to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year.

“A government shutdown is not an option, period. While short term funding measures are not the preferable way to fund the government, we must maintain critical programs and services for the American people until Congress comes to a final, long-term agreement. This legislation also includes $6 billion in spending cuts – a $2 billion cut for every week of funding – to continue our efforts to rein in spending and put a dent in our massive, $1.5 trillion deficit,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. 

The cuts in H.J. Res 48 include funding rescissions, reductions, and program terminations. The bill also eliminates earmark accounts within the Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science, Financial Services/General Government, and Interior subcommittee jurisdictions. 

All of the spending cuts in this legislation were also included in  H.R.1 – which was passed by the House – and many of these reductions and terminations were supported by President Obama in his annual  budget requests. In addition, while not being approved by the Senate  this week, H.R.1 garnered more Senate votes than the Senate Democrats’ competing proposal.

This short term CR is expected to be considered by the House next week. To view the text of the legislation, please visit: www.rules.house.gov

A summary of the program reductions and terminations in H.J.Res. 48 follows:   
H.J.Res 48 reduces or terminates a total of 25 programs for a savings of $3.5 billion.

  • Preserve America (National Park Service) = -$4.6 million. This grant program – which promotes “heritage tourism” – was not funded in the President’s budget request. 
  • Save America’s Treasures grant program (National Park Service) = -$14.8 million. The program – originally slated as a two year initiative to commemorate the year 2000 Millennium – was not funded in the President’s budget request. 
  • Climate Effects Network – Science Application (U.S. Geological Survey) = -$10.5 million. This program to “provide data for forecasting the effects of climate change” was not funded in the President’s budget request.
  • Greenhouse Gas Cap and Trade Funding (EPA) = -$5 million. This funding was provided by the last Congress for the EPA to assist Congress in enacting the Cap and Trade legislation. This program was not funded in the President’s budget request.
  • Local Government Climate Change Grants (EPA) = -$10 million. This program was not funded in the President’s budget request. In addition, the Administration has indicated that this program lacks focus and  effectiveness, and is too broad to allow fair competition for grants.
  • Targeted Airshed Grants (EPA) = -$10 million. The program funds diesel retrofits and replacements for pollution reduction. Funding for similar programs is already available, and the program was not funded in the President’s budget request. 
  • Construction Funding Rescission (National Park Service) = -$25 million. This cut rescinds unobligated balances from completed construction projects.
  • Wildland Fire Suppression Rescission (U.S. Forest Service) = -$200 million. These funds were carried over from last year, and were not needed or used for last year’s fire suppression efforts. This rescission was included Senate Democrats’ most recent CR proposal.
  • Single Family Housing (Department of Agriculture) = -$144 million. This reduction was requested in the President’s budget request. These  funds for this unsubsidized loan guarantee are no longer necessary due to the authorization of a borrower fee. In addition, this reduction was included in the Senate Democrats’ most recent CR proposal.
  • Customs and Border Protection – Construction (Department of Homeland Security) = -$107 million. This rescission of unneeded construction and planning funding was requested by the agency, and was part of the Senate Democrats’ recent CR proposal. 
  • Emergency Steel Loans (Commerce Department) = -$48 million. The CR rescinds the remaining balances from prior year appropriations for the Emergency Steel, Oil, and Gas Guaranteed Loan Program Account. Only three loans have been made under this program and no new loans have been made since 2003.  Similar rescissions were proposed in the President’s budget request.
  • Public Telecommunications Facilities and Construction (Commerce Department = -$19 million. The mandated conversions of public television stations to digital broadcasting and other mandated conversion efforts are now completed and the funds are no longer necessary. This termination was requested in the President’s budget request.
  • Census Rescission (Commerce Department) = -$1.74 billion. These funds were appropriated in Fiscal Year 2010 to conduct the 2010 Decennial Census.  The Census is complete and these balances are no longer needed.
  • Career Pathways Innovation Fund (Labor Department) = -$125 million. This reduction was included in the President’s budget request, as well as the Senate Democrats’ most recent CR proposal. This discretionary funding is not necessary as the program received $500 million in mandatory funding provided in the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.”
  • Community Service Employment for Older Americans (Labor Department) = -$225 million. This funding was originally provided as one-time funds. The funding was not included in the President’s budget request, nor the Senate Democrats’ most recent CR proposal.
  • State Health Access Grants (Health and Human Services Department) = -$75 million. Only 13 states receive funding through this program, and the program was terminated in the President’s budget request.
  • Flu Funding (Health and Human Services Department) = -$276 million. The bill reduces this “no-year” pandemic influenza funding, while continuing approximately $65 million in annual flu funding. There is sufficient carry-over funding available to the agency to cover any necessary long-term costs. This “no-year” funding was eliminated in the President’s request, and in the Senate Democrats’ most recent CR proposal.
  •  “Parklawn” Building Lease (Health and Human Services) = -$35 million. The bill reduces funding for the Public Health Service building in Rockville, MD. The reduction was included in the President’s budget request, and in the Senate Democrats’ most recent CR proposal.
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting = -$50 million. The bill terminates the “Fiscal Stabilization Fund” which provides funding increases to public broadcasting stations to offset reduced public donations. The bill also terminates the “Radio Interconnection” project that was completed in 2010. These programs were also terminated in the President’s budget request as well as the Senate Democrats’ most recent CR proposal.
  • Internet Technology Funds (Social Security Administration) = -$200 million. The CR reduces carry-over funding for information technology and telecommunication activities. The funds in this account do not expire – essentially creating a “slush fund” which totaled over $825 million at the beginning of fiscal year 2011. The SSA budget requested use of only $200 million of this funding this year, and the reduction of $200 million in this bill leaves more than sufficient funding available. This reduction was also included in the Senate Democrats’ recent CR proposal.
  • Brownfields Redevelopment (Housing and Urban Development Department) = -$17.5 million. All activities undertaken by this program are also eligible for funding through the Community Development Block Grant. No funds were requested for this program in the President’s budget request.
  • Railroad Safety Technology Program (Federal Railroad Administration) = -$50 million. The Department has not released significant grants under this program, and the technology is not yet fully developed. No funds were requested for this program in the President’s request. 
  • Chief Administrative Officer – Salaries and Expenses (House of Representatives) = -$1.5 million. This CR reduces 38 unneeded and unfilled House operations positions, and reduces contractor funding within the House of Representatives.
  • Library of Congress – Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission = -$0.75 million. This commission is no longer in existence and therefore no funds are necessary.
  • International Fund for Ireland (State Department) = -$17 million. This funding was expected to end last year, and the program’s annual report from last year states that they would not be seeking further contributions after 2010. This funding also was not requested in the President’s budget request.

    Earmark Terminations: 

    The CR eliminates $2.6 billion in earmark account funding that was automatically renewed in the CR approved by the previous Congress in December. In previous years, this funding would have gone to earmarked programs and projects. These earmark cuts include:
    Agriculture
    -$24 million – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Salaries and Expenses 
    -$37 million – Natural Resources Conservation Service – Conservation Operations
    -$30 million – Natural Resources Conservation Service – Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations
    -$3 million – Rural Community Development Grants
    -$3 million – National Center for Natural Products
    -$3 million – Agricultural Pest Facility 
    -$10 million – Various Agricultural Grants 
    -$115 million – Agriculture Research Service
    -$122 million – National Institute of Food and Agriculture – Research and Education 
    -$11 million – National Institute of Food and Agriculture – Extension
    Commerce/Justice/Science
    -$5 million – International Trade Administration – Operations and Administration
    -$2 million – Minority Business Development
    -$20 million –NIST – Scientific and Technology Research 
    -$47 million – NIST – Research Facility Construction 
    -$99 million – NOAA – Operations, Research, and Facilities 
    -$18 million – NOAA – Procurement Acquisition and Construction 
    -$185 million – State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance – Byrne projects 
    -$91 million – Juvenile Justice Programs 
    -$169 million – Community Oriented Policing Services – Technology projects
    -$25 million – Community Oriented Policing Services – Methamphetamine projects
    -$63 million – NASA – Cross Agency Support
    Financial Services/General Government
    -$3 million – Community Development Financial Institutions
    -$2 million – ONDCP – Federal Drug Control Programs
    -$2 million – District of Columbia – Chief Financial Officer (federal funds)
    -$894 million – GSA Federal Buildings Fund – Construction
    -$130 million – GSA Federal Buildings Fund – Repair and Alterations
    -$16 million – National Archives and Records – Repairs and Restoration
    -$59 million – Small Business Administration – Salaries and Expenses
    Interior
    -$1 million – Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Management of Lands and Resources
    -$2 million – BLM – Construction
    -$3 million – BLM – Land Acquisition 
    -$12 million – Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – Resource Management 
    -$10 million – FWS – Construction
    -$22 million – FWS – Land Acquisition
    -$10 million – National Park Service (NPS) – Historic Preservation – Save Americas Treasures
    -$6 million – NPS National Recreation and Preservation – Statutory or Contractual aid
    -$23 million – NPS – Construction
    -$17 million – NPS – Land Acquisition
    -$7 million – U.S. Geological Survey – Surveys, Investigations, and Research
    -$1 million – Bureau of Indian Affairs – Operation of Indian Programs
    -$1 million – Office of Insular Affairs – Assistance to Territories
    -$6 million – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Science and Technology
    -$26 million – EPA – Environmental Programs and Management
    -$1 million – EPA – Buildings and Facilities
    -$172 million – EPA – Tribal Assistance Grants
    -$8 million – EPA – “Hunter’s Point” project
    -$0.4 million – Forest Service (FS) – Forest and Rangeland Research
    -$6 million – FS – State and Private Forestry
    -$1 million – FS – National Forest System
    -$7 million – FS – Capital Improvement and Maintenance
    -$30 million – FS – Land Acquisition 
    -$6 million – FS – Wildland Fire Management

Please write to your congressional representative to tell them why these programs are critical to your work today!

Humanities at the Forefront of Congressional Vote on National Budget

The Annual Meeting for the National Humanities Alliance took place on March 7, 2011 at George Washington University, followed by Humanities Advocacy Day on March 8 at Capitol Hill. The Annual Meeting was an opportunity to provide concrete ways to exemplify and frame arguments to support the humanities, skills meeting participants would need for the following Advocacy day.

AAA’s Director of Public Affairs, Damon Dozier was featured in a three member panel that exemplified the field of humanities. Dozier emphasized the importance of education through the biological sciences and cultural perceptions o f race. Through the RACE: Are We So Different? public education program, AAA has spurred dialogue across the nation to embrace cultural differences and rethink preconceived notions of race and racism in the United States.

Bill Davis, AAA’s Executive Director, joined NHA’s national delegation that met with congressional members that hold stature within congressional committees. Damon Dozier and Joslyn Osten, Marketing & Communications Manager, joined first-time constituent lobbyist, Hollis Clayson of Northwestern University in meeting with the representatives of Illinois. While all meetings with congressional staffers were fruitful, feedback led to the conclusion that the representatives who have a history of supporting humanities will work out the best possible solution to minimize the financial impact of the national budget on humanities funding.

Although NHA’s Advocacy Day was a success, lobbying for humanities funding cannot be completed in just one day. Congress will be voting this week and in the coming weeks on bills and revisions to settle the national budget. NHA and AAA need your help in communicating the critical need for funding the research and grant-related programming offered in your communities today. Contact your congressional representative now to demonstrate your support for humanities and visit NHA’s website to stay tuned in to the latest budgetary developments.

A Response to the Recent Attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven

AAA was one of 23 academic organizations that released a joint statement of response to the recent attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven, renown professor of the University of New York Graduate Center. The statement condemns Glenn Beck, radio and television personality, for his attacks on Piven and calls for public officials and political commentators to help in discouraging the rhetoric of hate and violence.

The joint statement was featured in a NewsWise article. The article describes the how Beck’s coverage of Piven’s research has escalated in the past few months:
Although Beck has not directly called for violence against Piven, his attacks have created an opening for threats of violence to emerge. During the past few months, Piven has received a flood of hate mail and been the subject of menacing Internet postings, which include a series of death threats. Much of the violent vitriol has appeared on Beck’s own website.

The joint statement looks to the First Amendment rights for protection of academic research on controversial issues and urges open debate:
We vigorously support serious, honest, and passionate public debate…We support serious engagement on the research of Professor Piven and of others who study controversial issues such as unemployment, the economic crisis, the rights of welfare recipients, and the place of government intervention. We also support the right of political commentators to participate in such debates. At the same time, we insist that all parties recognize the rights of academic researchers not only to gather and analyze evidence related to controversial questions, but also to arrive at their own conclusions and to expect those conclusions to be reported accurately in public debates.

AAA sections, The American Ethnological Society (AES) and The Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology (SUNTA) are honored that Francis Fox Piven will be the keynote speaker at their upcoming joint conference. The conference will be held April 14-17 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For conference registration and additional details, click here.

To view the joint statement and to read the complete NewsWise article, click here. The Chronicle blog also weighs in on the topic, check it out.

Sacrifice and the Ripple Effect of Tunisian Self-immolation

We welcome a guest column by AAA member Sami Hermez (PhD, Princeton University). Sami is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Lebanese Studies at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford.

I was in Lebanon when the Tunisian revolt began.  I attended an event with activists that made me feel hopeful because it was the first time that a large group of people came to rally behind a cause that was not Palestinian or Lebanese.  Soon after, I was in Oxford when Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was deposed, and when the Egyptian revolts broke out days later on January 25, 2011.  Tens of thousands of people took to the streets that day, in what was seen as an unprecedented act in Egypt.  Since then, people in Egypt have inspired me, and I have been left in awe and disbelief that President Hosni Mubarak has been toppled and his regime left in decay.  The revolts in Egypt and Tunisia left over 500 dead and thousands injured.  It is these people’s sacrifices that I want to reflect on, and on their ability to sacrifice themselves for change, a powerful phenomenon that no regime could ever take away from its people.

Few deny the inspiration of the Tunisian revolts on the Egyptian scene.  By most accounts, the Tunisian revolution was triggered on December 17, 2010 when Muhammad Bouazizi, a fruit seller from the town of Sidi Salah, set fire to himself after being banned by police from selling his vegetables and then being humiliated.  Reports of his humiliation claim that a female police officer cursed and slapped him, and that after his complaints to the local Governor were dismissed, and within an hour of his humiliation, he lit himself on fire.  These details may prove to be a lie, but they have already taken on the value of myth, and become the subject of songs, as this self-immolation is said to have sparked protests in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid that grew, day-by-day, and culminated in the eventual overthrow of the Tunisian president on January 14, 2011

Continue reading

Budget Announced – Write to Your Congress Representative Today!

Yesterday, the Obama Administration released its budget for fiscal year 2012, a plan that includes bold proposals to reduce government spending and address a budget deficit that is expected to reach over $1.6 trillion dollars by the end of this fiscal year.

Among the agencies subject to proposed budget cuts include the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts (both agencies subject to a reduction of 13.1% to $146 million), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (a reduction of 13.8% to 243 million).

While the budget includes modest increases for the Smithsonian Institution (6.9% to 1.05 billion), the National Institutes of Health (2.4% to 31.8 billion) and the National Science Foundation (13% to 7.8 billion), Republicans have introduced, cuts to CURRENT funding for the NIH ($1.6 billion) and the NSF ($360 million). These actions, introduced in the latest version of the House continuing resolution (CR) funding bill for the remainder of this year, may be a portent of cuts to come for the 2012 budget bill.

Please contact your local Representatives and ask:
 1: the current CR NOT to include cuts to NSF and NIH
2: the final FY 2012 budget eliminate the proposed cuts to NEH, NEA, and IMLS.

Don’t delay, write to your congressmen today!

NEH Needs Your Support

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) announced plans for a Continuing Resolution that would reduce spending by $74 billion below President Obama’s 2011 budget request for the remainder of the year.  This proposal would cut over $12 million from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH)!

As one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the US, NEH provides critical support for research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities through grants to a wide range of educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and scholars nationwide.

Write to your representative today to let members of Congress know WHY the humanities and NEH are important to you, their constituent.

NHA deadline extended – Register Today!

The NHA extened their deadline to register for Humanities Advocacy Day until Friday! Our offer still stands for the FIRST person to register, AAA will waive the registration fee. For all the details and to register, check out our earlier post.

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