The House of Representatives yesterday voted to fund the National Endownment for the Arts and National Endownment for the Humanities at levels about 73 percent higher than those proposed by the Reagan administration for fiscal 1982.
The appropriations bill, which passed the House by a vote of 358 to 46, allocates $157.5 million to the NEA and $144.6 million to the NEH. These figures were initially recommended by the House Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, which is chaired by Rep. Sidney Yates (D-Ill.), a staunch arts supporter.
Reagan had proposed figures of $88 million for the NEA and $85 million for the NEH.
"This legislation for the arts is a great accolade and tribute to Sid Yates and Joe McDade [the ranking Republican on the subcommittee] and their colleagues in the House," said NEA Chairman Livingston Biddle.
Rep. Fred Richmond (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House arts caucus, said the caucus is "really working," although he stopped short of directly linking the smooth passage of the NEA and NEH appropriations with the influence of the caucus. There is "increased awareness of the importance of the arts in the House," Richmond said.
The institute for Museum Services, which the Reagan administration originally proposed abolishing, was allocated $14.2 million in the House vote.
The House figures for the Endowments are much higher than the spending ceilings approved Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee. The conferees approved figures of $119.3 million for the NEA and $113.7 million for the NEH for fiscal 1982.
However, Yates has said that Congress can appropriate higher amounts for the NEA and the NEH than specified in the budget bill. "Those are really target levels," Yates said several weeks ago. "We take those target levels and decide if we want to go under some and over some others." But the total amount of funds that his subcommittee can appropriate is already set by the budget bill.
And to add to the confusion, the House appropriations figures still differ from the figures recommended last Friday by a Senate Appropriations subcommittee -- $119.3 million for the NEA and $113.7 million for the NEH. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to meet today to make its recommendations. Eventually differences in figures between the House and the Senate must be reconciled.
In a related matter, Rep. Bill Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) introduced an amendment on the House floor to delete funds for an exhibit in the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History called "the dynamics of evolution," according to Cliff Dean, press secretary to Dannemeyer. "He's not particularly against that exhibit," said Dean. "He feels that equal time should be given to the creation theory as well." The amendment was defeated.