As Monday comes to a close, the Senate has just finished its procedural vote to allow a final vote tomorrow, Tuesday, February 10, on the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” If passed on Tuesday, the Senate stimulus bill will go quickly to conference with the House version.
These are likely to be tough negotiations between the House and Senate conferees. In the meantime, a major library grassroots effort must continue to maintain library-provisions in the final bill.
There are pros and cons to each version of the bill. While the Senate version included the $200 million for broadband funding, it also has an amendment (titled the Nelson-Collins Amendment) that would essentially strip all education funding from the economic stimulus package. The House version, on the other hand, includes funding for a host of programs libraries benefit from including Education for the 21st Century, K-12 Repair and Modernization, Higher Education Repair and Modernization, Rural Community Facilities Program, State Broadband Development, Community Service Employment for Older Americans, National Endowment for the Arts, and Head Start/Early Head Start.
There are portions of each bill that benefit libraries and the communities they serve. Tomorrow, after the Senate passes its version of the economic stimulus package and the bill goes to conference, library advocates must be prepared to move quickly to advocate for the library related provisions emphasizing the role that libraries play to help people find jobs, promote small businesses and support training and skill-development for new jobs and careers.
GRASSROOTS MESSAGES — Please continue to contact your Senators and House members. We will publish a list of the conferees as soon as the members are identified. Please call all of your Senators and Representatives and tell them the following sections of each version must be protected:
In the Senate version:
All conferees should support the broadband funding, including the $200 million designated for libraries and community colleges to deploy broadband. There are other broadband projects in the Senate bill that should help libraries in partnership with other institutions and local governments, especially in rural areas.
In the House version conferees are asked to keep in:
- Education for the 21st Century
- K-12 Repair and Modernization
- Higher Education Repair and Modernization
- Rural Community Facilities Program
- Community Service Employment for Older Americans
- National Endowment for the Arts
- Head Start/Early Head Start (House version):
Thank you for all you have been doing to get our library provisions this far. Because of your overwhelming grassroots efforts, we have successfully protected the $200 million in broadband funding, but more work needs to be done. In the next few days, elected officials in the House and the Senate will be working on blending the two versions of this bill, and compromises will need to be made to ensure the economic stimulus package can pass both houses before being sent to the President. As library advocates, we have our work cut out for us — let’s ensure that libraries receive the funding they need in order to continue providing the exceptional services our communities need.
Government Relations Specialist
American Library Association Washington Office