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Home » Legislative Update » Renewed Focus on Arts, Health Care, and Performance Rights

Renewed Focus on Arts, Health Care, and Performance Rights


NEA and CPB Funding

In a May 31 communique, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released an analysis of the White House’s FY 2018 federal budget. Within the Document entitled, Budget of the US Government: A New Foundation for American Greatness, the White House made several recommendations that cut short the ability of the US Government to invest in arts and culture. Under the section “Other Programs and Agencies Eliminated,” they list the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

The White House’s March 18 budget release was merely an outline of the budget, which allowed AFM members to organize a Save the NEA campaign, an email campaign to Members of Congress expressing AFM members’ discontent over White House budget cuts to the arts. This successful mobilization program allowed AFM members, family, and friends to send approximately 4,301 emails to members of Congress encouraging them to make adjustments in the congressional appropriations process to recognize the intrinsic value of arts funding. In particular, such funding promotes a vibrant economy that, in turn, generates and contributes significant tax dollars designed to reinvest in local communities. For every dollar contributed by the NEA, the agency generates eight dollars to the community’s financial well-being.

Our work continues with the letter writing campaign in support of the tireless efforts of the House Arts Caucus led by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), along with the Department for Professional Employees of the AFL-CIO, the Congressional Arts Group, and myriad other individual artists and arts organizations across the country. If you have not written a letter to Congress on this vitally important issue, please visit the AFM website ( for information.

Health Care

Republicans are looking to complete the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. The new legislation, which passed the House May 4 by a vote of 217 to 213 (with 20 Republicans and all Democrats voting against it), is now under consideration in the Senate. The House bill suffered through interparty squabbling as various Republican caucuses disagreed with certain provisions. There were fears that, if passed, the poorly crafted bill could lead to a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.

Among principal concerns from Republicans was the belief that the bill should include provisions for coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as those with employer-based health insurance. After a month of wrangling, the bill was yanked from the floor, with both moderates and conservatives threatening not to vote for the bill until these issues were worked out.  

In the House, the Budget Office (CBO) score was not released until after the bill was passed. It showed that more than 23 million Americans could lose their health care benefits by 2026—more people than if Obamacare remained intact.

After House passage, the bill moved to the Senate where Senators agreed to disagree with the content of the bill and decided to totally rewrite it. As the House moved as quickly as it could to put a bill in place, the Senate worked behind closed doors with 13 Republican Senators drafting a revised bill. There was major concern over the bill being drafted without a CBO score analyzing its costs. The Senate decided to delay releasing its bill until all the pieces are in place. Democrats protested because the bill will apparently not be the subject of committee hearings or debate on the floor. Democrats also complain the bill may cause unnecessary spikes in premiums for low-income families, older Americans, and those with pre-existing conditions.

As of this writing, the Senate is looking to release its bill by June 19, aiming for a full vote in the chamber just prior to the July 4th holiday recess. Many senators are hoping for a revised CBO score before they vote for the bill.

Fair Play Fair Pay Act

The AFM’s work toward a legislative solution to a performance right on AM/FM radio continues. H.R. 1836, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which was introduced by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), is a key piece of legislation being spearheaded by the musicFIRST Coalition. First, the bill levels the playing field by having AM/FM radio stations pay performance royalties for music they air. Secondly, it provides real protection for small, local stations (AM/FM stations with annual revenues below $1 million) to pay just $500 a year. Public, college, and other noncommercial stations would pay only $100 a year. Religious radio, talk radio, and those stations with incidental use of music would not pay royalties. The bill also contains language that provides copyright protections for pre-1972 artists who currently do not receive royalties for their works.

The coalition is currently working with House Judiciary Chair Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) to bring the parties together. Nadler, Blackburn, and the musicFIRST Coalition continue to build support of cosponsors for the package. Despite broadcaster efforts to stop the bill, and thanks to the work of an ambitious team of legislative representatives, the bill continues to build bipartisan co-sponsorship.

More importantly, through musicFIRST, the AFM is working to help build a comprehensive music package that includes Copyright Office Reform and HR 1914, the PROMOTE Act offered by Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), which would provide the right to copyright owners to prohibit the use of sound recordings by broadcasters, unless permission is granted by the copyright owner.