The United States Senate voted on Friday to cut funding for the arts from the economic recovery bill. The amendment to the bill, offered by Republican senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, passed by a wide margin, seventy-three votes to twenty-four, and included support from senators Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, among others. The House of Representatives had approved fifty million dollars in supplemental grants funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as part of the $819 billion economic stimulus bill put forward by president Barack Obama.
The new amendment, which was passed "to ensure that taxpayer money is not lost on wasteful and non-stimulative projects," states that "none of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”
The nonprofit Americans for the Arts has organized an e-mail campaign urging readers to contact their senators and ask that the amendment be removed from the bill before the Senate votes on it early this week. For more information, visit the Web site.