Congress delivered good news for library funding after returning from its August recess this week. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an increase of $4 million in funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), all of which would go to the formula-based Grants to States program.
Following months of intensive Hill lobbying by ALA Washington Office staff and the emails, phone calls and visits to Congress by ALA advocates, these gains are a win for libraries. According to a key Senate staffer, ALA’s ongoing grassroots campaign to save direct library funding launched last March – and the significant increase in the number of Senators and Representatives signing “Dear Appropriator” letters this year that it produced – played a major role in the gains for IMLS and Grants to States in the Senate Committee’s bill.
The Senate Committee’s bill, approved by the Labor-HHS Subcommittee on Wednesday, would boost IMLS funding to $235 million. Grants to States would receive $160 million. The bill also includes increased funding in FY 2018 for a number of other library-related programs.
|National Library of Medicine||$420.9 million||$21 million|
|Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants||$450 million||$50 million|
|Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies||$15.5 billion||$25 million|
|Innovative Approaches to Literacy||$27 million||level|
|Title II Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants||$2.1 billion||level|
|Career and Technical Education State Grants||$1.1 billion||level|
Overall, education funding in the Senate bill decreased $1.3 billion, but libraries remain a clear priority in Congress. These increases in direct library funding would not be possible without sustained advocacy by ALA staff and members!
The Committee’s funding measure now heads to the full Senate for consideration. If passed, it must eventually be reconciled with House legislation that proposes to fund IMLS and Grants to States for FY2018 at FY2017’s level of $231 million and $156 million, respectively. While yesterday’s vote does not guarantee increased direct library funding, Senate approval of the Appropriations Committee’s bill would leave libraries in a very strong position to avoid any cuts for FY2018 – in spite of the Administration’s proposals (reiterated again this week in a “Statement of Administration Position“) to effectively eliminate IMLS and federal library funding.
While library funding is on track to remain level through the standard appropriations process, final passage of legislation by both chambers of Congress by the end of the 2017 Fiscal Year on September 30 is unlikely. Congressional staff tells ALA that Congress will not be able to pass most, if any, of its 12 individual appropriations bills by the end of this month. Congress will likely need to enact a Continuing Resolution (CR), which would fund the government at current levels, to avert a government shutdown on October 1.
Thanks to you, the outlook for library funding in FY2018 is promising, but it’s not close to being a done deal. Right now, we must be patient; but please be ready to participate in one last grassroots push this fall when your voice is most needed to maintain – and possibly increase – library funding. We will keep you updated.