WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed one final piece of legislation before concluding the 117th Congress and responded to IATSE advocacy by delivering on two key issues. Following a vote Friday afternoon, a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that funds the government through September 2023 is now headed to President Biden’s desk to become law.
As lawmakers negotiated the details of the package, IATSE firmly advocated for the inclusion of three key priorities to benefit behind-the-scenes entertainment workers: 1) increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH); 2) increased funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); and 3) the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (PATPA).
We are thrilled to report that Congress has increased funding for both the NEA and NEH to $207 million each in FY2023. This is the exact figure that IATSE and our sister arts unions advocated for, and our voices were heard. $207 million is a record high for the agencies and represents a $27 million increase over the current funding level. This funding will allow the federal arts agencies to cultivate more good-paying, family-supporting jobs across the country for IATSE members and those working to join the union.
A $207 million budget will also allow both agencies to realize their intentions of hiring Chief Diversity Officers, a position IATSE explicitly lobbied for and sees as crucial to fostering a more inclusive and representative entertainment industry. This victory for creative professionals stems from the solidarity we have built across the arts and entertainment unions and the strength of our collective memberships, who sent thousands of letters to Congress urging them to act. The new funding level also marks an important step toward our long-term goal of funding the agencies at $331 million each, or $1 per capita.
In another notable victory, for the first time in nearly a decade, the NLRB will receive an increase in funding. The agency is poised to receive $25 million over the current funding level, a desperately needed increase. While the final number falls short of the increase sought by the AFL-CIO, its affiliate unions, and our allies in Congress, these new funds will prevent furloughs and allow the agency to increase enforcement and protect workers’ rights. We will continue pressing until the NLRB has the resources necessary to keep up with the surge in union activity across the country and provide workers the protections they are guaranteed by law.
We are grateful to the members of Congress who stood with us and delivered critical funding for the federal arts agencies and NLRB. We applaud those IATSE members and allies who helped bring attention to these two issues and pushed them over the finish line.
Unfortunately, Congress could not come to bipartisan agreement on a tax package within the omnibus, meaning the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (PATPA) was not able to be included. We are disappointed that, despite our efforts, PATPA will not be passed before the end of the year. This bill would allow many IATSE members to once again deduct common work-related expenses from their taxes. We remain optimistic about the prospects of bipartisan tax legislation early next year. Our fight to pass PATPA and realize tax fairness for entertainment workers will persist in the 118th Congress.
Please visit IATSE’s 2022 Federal Issue Agenda to see some of the other priorities we fought for in Washington this year on behalf of IATSE behind-the-scenes entertainment workers.