What: All Issues : Education, Humanities, & the Arts : Funding for National Endowments of the Arts and/or Humanities : H.R. 2691. Fiscal 2004 Interior Appropriations/Vote on Final Passage of a Conference Report to Provide Funding for the Interior Department and Related Agencies. (2003 house Roll Call 595)
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H.R. 2691. Fiscal 2004 Interior Appropriations/Vote on Final Passage of a Conference Report to Provide Funding for the Interior Department and Related Agencies.
house Roll Call 595     Oct 30, 2003
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

The subject of this vote was final passage of a conference report on the Interior Department spending bill which would provide $19.7 billion for the Interior Department and $400 million to the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for costs associated with fighting wildfires (a conference report is the final version of a bill). Progressives voted against final passage for three reasons. Their first objection involved the inclusion of an administration-favored rule which would expand road building, logging, and mining operations in federal forestland, specifically (but not limited to) Alaska's Chugach and Tongass national forests. In the view of Progressives, expanding commercial operations in federal forestland would jeopardize the natural beauty of pristine wilderness areas. Progressives' second objection involved funding cuts for the National Endowments of the Arts (NEA) and Humanities (NEH). In the view of Progressives, federal funding for the arts and humanities is socially and economically beneficial. According to Representative Slaughter (D-NY), the $232 million invested by the federal government in the NEA and NEH in 2003 had an economic impact of $132 billion and produced billions of tax revenues on the federal, state, and local levels of government. Additionally, continued Slaughter, every dollar the NEA invests in local theater groups, orchestras, or exhibitions generates seven dollars for NEA by attracting other grants, private donations, and ticket sales. The third objection involved provisions in the conference report which failed to resolve a dispute between Native Americans and the Interior Department. Since 1885, the Interior Department has managed an account owned by Native Americans which contained money paid to tribes by the federal government for the commercial use of Native American land. According to Progressives, this account had been terribly mismanaged by Interior and legislative action was needed to compensate Native Americans for the federal government's mishandling of the account. Conservatives voted in favor of final passage based on what they characterized as the virtues of the legislation such as funding increases for the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Refuges, the Indian Health Service, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. On a vote of 216-205, the conference report which would expand logging and mining operations in federal forestland was adopted and President Bush signed the measure into law on November 10, 2003.

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