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Senate approves federal funds for libraries in FY 2019 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill 

The full Senate late yesterday approved a “minibus” package of two appropriations bills for the 2019 fiscal year (FY 2019), Defense and Labor, Health, Human Services & Education (Labor-HHS). The bills include a $2 million funding increase for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) with level funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as well as level funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. The Senate voted overwhelmingly 85-7 for passage.

The success in securing library funding in the Senate is thanks to the work of library advocates across the country over the past year. LSTA and IAL were recommended for elimination in the president’s budget for the second straight year, but library advocates galvanized across the country to ensure senators recognized the important contributions of libraries.

Congress must approve 12 spending bills before the October 1 start of FY 2019 or pass a temporary spending measure (continuing resolution) to keep the government open. Appropriators are working on passing small groupings of spending bills (called a minibus) to avoid a massive “omnibus” package, which the president has threatened to veto. The two-bill minibus that passed late yesterday represents more than $850 billion in federal spending. The Labor-HHS appropriations bill includes $179 billion, while Defense appropriations includes $675 billion.

The full House, according to our sources, is likely to put off final consideration of these bills until after the November election and move to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open past the elections. The House Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2019 Labor-HHS funding bill in July.

Under the Senate bill, IMLS would receive a $2 million increase to $242 million dedicated to improving administration of its grant programs and provide additional research for libraries and museums; LSTA would be level funded at $189.3 million; and IAL level funded at $27 million. Other funding levels for library-related programs include: level funding for Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants (Striving Readers) at $190 million; Title II Effective Instruction level funded at $2.1 billion; CTE State Grants level funded at $1.2 billion; and Title IV Student Support increased $125 million to $1.225 billion. The National Library of Medicine received an increase of $13.5 million.

We will continue to keep ALA members informed as the funding process continues towards final passage, and won’t be shy about asking for your help if needed.

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Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is the deputy director of government relations at the American Library Association’s Washington Office. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before coming to the ALA in 2014, Kevin was the vice president of government affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association for 20 years.

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