Congress Accidentally Approves Arts Funding

Top Headlines


Siblings Each Hoping Other One Will Take Care Of Aging Parents Someday

CLEVELAND—Explaining that they simply didn’t want to have to deal with the immense time commitment and emotional exhaustion, sisters Katie and Ellen Cattell each privately admitted to reporters this week that they were hoping the other sibling would someday be the one to take care of their aging parents.

Where Your Political Donation Goes

With over $1 billion spent in the 2016 presidential race alone, campaign donations continue to cause much controversy and even confusion for their role in shaping politics. Here is a step-by-step guide to how the average American’s political donation travels through a campaign

Fact-Checking The Third Presidential Debate

Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sparred over subjects including foreign policy, the economy, and their fitness to hold the nation’s highest office in the final debate Wednesday. The Onion examines the validity of their assertions

Intergalactic Law Enforcement Officers Place Energy Shackles On Hillary Clinton

PARADISE, NV—Materializing through a dimensional portal in front of a stunned audience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, intergalactic law enforcement officers reportedly appeared onstage during Wednesday night’s presidential debate and placed a pair of glowing blue energy shackles on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump Complains Entire Personality Rigged Against Him

WEST PALM BEACH, FL—Responding to his flagging poll numbers and a string of newspaper editorials and cable news pundits questioning his fitness to lead, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly complained to a rally crowd Thursday that for the entirety of this race, his personality has been rigged against him.

Fact-Checking The Second Presidential Debate

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump discussed topics including national security, taxes, and their ongoing personal scandals in a contentious town hall presidential debate Sunday. The Onion evaluates the truthfulness of their claims

Trump Vomits Immediately After Seeing Everyday Americans Up Close

ST. LOUIS—His face turning deathly pale and beads of cold sweat forming on his brow as he took his seat for the town hall forum at Washington University, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly vomited directly onto the debate stage Sunday night upon viewing everyday Americans up close.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Congress Accidentally Approves Arts Funding

WASHINGTON, DC—A red-faced Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) admitted Monday that, as part of last week's $397 billion spending bill, Congress accidentally allocated $121 million to the National Endowment for the Arts.

Above: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) react to the inadvertent $121 million arts endowment.

"We approved what?" said Frist upon learning of the inadvertent arts funding. "I don't recall putting my name on anything like that. Any funding of the arts was purely accidental. I repeat, any financial support of artists, musicians, or writers on my part was done unwittingly and unknowingly."

"That bill was more than 3,000 pages, single-spaced," Frist added. "It's pretty easy to miss something."

The 2003-04 budget bill, which passed 338-83 in the House and 76-20 in the Senate, boosted defense spending by $98 billion and pledged $27 billion in tax breaks to oil companies and other energy concerns. It also unintentionally allocated more than $120 million to "award financial assistance for projects, productions, workshops, or programs that will encourage public knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the arts."

"That wording was confusing," Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) said. "I did not fully understand what that meant. I assumed it had something to do with scientific or military research, so I voted for it. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to misinterpret that."

On Capitol Hill, countless legislators expressed embarrassment over voting for the bill, admitting that the arts funding simply slipped by them.

"I don't know how this could have happened," Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) said. "I thought I read the thing pretty carefully, but toward the bottom of page 117, those four words are right there in black and white: American Jazz Masters Fellowship."

Making the blow even more severe is the fact that the NEA will have the power to determine how the funds are distributed.

"As I understand it, not only will the government provide money for paintings and poems, it will have little say over how that money is used," Gutknecht said. "This means some limp-wristed NEA member will decide what qualifies as art rather than Congress or the president. Remind me never to skim a bill again, no matter how long it is."

Above: The new home of the Boogabong Players, an avant-garde Stowe, VT, puppet-theater troupe.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) spoke out in defense of his embarrassed colleagues.

"In those final, frantic days of House-Senate bargaining, money was flying everywhere," Bayh said. "$3.1 billion to subsidize cattle ranchers here, $1.5 billion to help states revamp their electoral systems there. I can see how, in all that chaos, $185,000 for the Dance Theater of Harlem could get overlooked."

Many citizens do not excuse the lawmakers' negligence.

"These congressmen must be held accountable," said Ronald Drake, a Lincoln, NE, hardware-store owner. "My hard-earned tax dollars will be supporting repertory theaters and art galleries—places no decent, hard-working American would ever set foot in. And then there's the museums I always hear about on the news, with the dirty photos and whatnot."

Some senators tried to defuse criticism by playing up the "many wonderful parts" of the bill.

"We need to keep this in perspective," Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said. "Let's try to focus on the $390 million that will go toward mineral drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rather than the $15,000 that may wind up going to some guy who wants to put on a Shakespeare play."

Added Hagel: "I can't be everywhere at once. It was [bipartisan Budget Committee member and Republican Colorado Rep. Tom] Tancredo's job to look out for things like this."

While Rep. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the line item that grants the NEA chairperson the power to award literature fellowships, she said she never expected it to be approved.

"I always throw some doomed things in there so we have something to take out," Stabenow said. "This time, I put the arts funding in to distract everyone from the section allocating money for school-breakfast programs in low-income districts. Live and learn."

Dana Gioia, the internationally acclaimed poet, critic, and educator who was recently named NEA chairman, was "as shocked as anyone" by the financial windfall.

"I can't wait to start making calls," Gioia said. "There's a Latina artist in Los Angeles who makes these amazing multimedia collages that combine the religious iconography of her strict Catholic upbringing with photographs of horse vaginas."


Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close