Despite the Trump Administration's proposal to eliminate virtually all federal library funding, the House of Representatives yesterday passed a package of FY2018 spending bills that includes funding for libraries.
The $1.2 trillion FY2018 budget bill (H.R. 3354), which passed by a 211-198 margin, includes full funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including all programs administered under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), as well as the Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.
The vote comes after the House Appropriations Committee in July approved a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) funding bill which proposed roughly $231 million for the IMLS, including $183.6 million for LSTA, programs, and $27 million for IAL—essentially level with 2017 funding. In addition, the bill passed yesterday also increased funding for the National Library of Medicine by $6 million.
In addition to voting to preserve federal library funding, the House bill also would save the National Endowments for the Arts, and Humanities, which are funded as part of the FY2018 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.
The House vote caps an intense lobbying effort, and comes after President Trump in May doubled down on his call to eliminate the IMLS and virtually all federal funding for libraries, as well as a host of other vital programs and agencies, including the NEH and the NEA. And, it comes after Congress, earlier in May, passed a belated 2017 budget that actually upped the IMLS, NEH, and NEA budgets.
With the vote, the budget battle now moves to the Senate, which observers on the Hill say will likely not take up its own appropriations bill until later in the year.
In a post on the American Library Association’s District Dispatch newsletter, ALA officials thanked librarians for their hard work, and cautioned that the budget battle is not over. Once the Senate has acted, the reconciliation process begins with the House, and “library supporters everywhere may need to again push hard to retain funding gains made in the Senate,” the post stresses.
Notably, ALA officials last week reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase IMLS’ FY 2018 budget.
“Your advocacy has put libraries in a great position at this point in the process,” ALA officials note, adding that “your persistence later this year will give us a strong finish.”