House Rejects More Cuts from Arts but Bill Would Slice Endowment by 40%
Ap, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Ignoring complaints about a California gay theater whose performances included a reference to "sex with Newt Gingrich's mother," the House of Representatives Monday beat back an attempt to slash the National Endowment for the Arts by $10 million in new cuts.
By a 227-179 vote, lawmakers refused to pare the arts agency's budget further, leaving intact a spending bill that would slice the endowment's coffers by about 40 percent next year.
House leaders have pledged to try to terminate the endowment entirely by 1998. The Senate, which has yet to act, is expected to be more generous.
The fight came as the House began a week of battle by debating a measure providing $12 billion next year for the Interior Department, cultural and other programs - $1.5 billion less than they received this year. The National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and energy conservation would be cut; the Bureau of Mines would be eliminated.
In what has become an almost annual attack on the arts agency and the National Endowment for the Humanities, conservatives criticized the use of taxpayers' dollars to finance works they said are objectionable.
This time, their target was Highways Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif., performance center whose summer schedule includes music, dance and comedy by gay and lesbian performers.
It received two endowment grants this year totaling $15,000.
According to the center's brochure, comedienne Marga Gomez called her show "Not for Republicans" and promised the performer would "hold forth on her favorite subjects: pain, regret, self pity, doom and sex with Newt Gingrich's mother."
Labeling the performances "lurid junk," Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., sponsored the amendment to slash the extra $10 million. "This is sexually explicit homosexual art material," he said. ". . . I think my colleagues from Los Angeles should be offended. I know I am. …