By Alexandra Klein, NHA Communications and Government Relations Manager

The Biden administration’s request for a funding increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and other humanities programs earlier this year was a welcome change from the Trump administration’s yearly calls to eliminate the NEH along with other programs that support humanities scholars and organizations.

Each year of the Trump administration, we mobilized the humanities community to cultivate bipartisan support in Congress to reject these proposals. Humanities advocates had a clear impact, building strong support in Congress. Happily, with this congressional support, we were not only able to turn back the Trump administration’s threats, we were also able to win increases for the NEH and other priorities. The legacy of these battles is the increased mobilization of the humanities community and the resulting increased level of support for humanities funding in Congress.

Now, with the Biden Administration’s FY 22 request as a starting point, humanities advocates are poised to work toward even larger funding increases. In late May, the Biden administration released its FY 22 President’s Budget Request with increases for nearly all humanities funding streams. In addition, the agencies’ budget justifications ensured that the administration sees the humanities are tied to its overarching priorities, including advancing racial equity and providing economic relief in the wake of COVID-19.

Under the budget request, the NEH would receive $177.5 million, a $10 million increase. The NEH foregrounded the administration’s priorities throughout their budget justification: “The Administration’s priorities for NEH fall into five categories: advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities; confronting the climate emergency; restoring America’s global standing; responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis; and strengthening our democracy.”

The National Archives and Records Administration would receive $403 million, an increase of $26 million and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission would receive $9.5 million, an increase of $3 million. In their budget justification, the National Archives states they will further racial equity by addressing “staffing needs across the agency and funds targeted recruitment activities to ensure a diverse pool of applicants.” Additionally, an increase in funding would also “provide online, electronic access to one of NARA’s most prominent collections of U.S. Government records associated with underserved communities.”

One disappointment in the budget request was that it included only level funding for the Department of Education’s international education programs Title VI and Fulbright-Hays despite the crucial role these programs play in ensuring that higher ed institutions provide a robust education in world cultures and languages.

We welcomed more good news in June and July as the House released its appropriations bills and passed them out of committee. The House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill contained an even more robust increase for the NEH, proposing an increase of $201 million.

The House Financial Services and General Government, meanwhile, matched the president’s request and included $403.6 million for the National Archives and Records Administration, an increase of $26 million, and an additional $9.5 million for NHPRC, an increase of $3 million.

Unlike the administration, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill included an increase for the Department of Education’s international education programs—Title VI received $79.4 million, a $10 million increase, and Fulbright-Hays received $13.8 million, a $5 million increase.

In late July, the full House passed an omnibus of appropriations bills including the three bills that fund each of our priorities.

The Senate began their portion of the appropriations process the first week of August. Given the  FY22 Dear Colleague Letters written in support of the NEH, NARA, and Title VI and Fulbright-Hays that have garnered support in the Senate, we anticipate support for funding increases.

While the prospect for robust funding increases are better than they have been the last four years, advocacy remains important in making clear how the humanities connect to all of the challenges of our current moment. We will continue to keep our members up to date about when and if any action is needed to increase support for the federally funded humanities. If you are interested in receiving occasional email updates about upcoming events, the appropriations process, and when we need advocates to take action, please visit our website,, to sign up for our email list.


About the Author

As communications and government relations manager at the National Humanities Alliance, Alexandra Klein coordinates press outreach and engagement, manages NHA’s web presence, and collaborates on government relations efforts. Before joining NHA, she was an Allen Lee Hughes Fellow at Arena Stage where she worked in the communications department, splitting her time between Media Relations and Marketing. Prior to Arena Stage, Alex attended the George Washington University where she received a B.A. in both Journalism and English.