The co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional Humanities Caucus, Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) and Rep. David Price (D-NC), have prepared a Dear Colleague letter in support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives and Records Administration that was "zeroed-out" in President Bush's FY 2007 budget. A "Dear Colleague" letter is the primary way that a member of Congress is able to communicate support for a federal agency program to the appropriations committee with jurisdiction over that program.
The letter requests $12 million ("full-funding" for national programs plus $2 million for staffing) for the NHPRC. The letter also calls for a portion of the funds to be used "to strengthen statewide disaster preparedness" and to provide "funding...to assist all states in developing state disaster plans for both vital and historical records" – in essence the state formula grant program endorsed by several national archival organizations and expected to be embraced by the NHPRC on a formal basis at a future meeting.
The letter seeks to persuade members that funding to the full authorized level is necessary to continue to provide access to key documents of our democracy, history, and culture and to provide much needed federal support for records held by state and local governments, historical societies, libraries, and related organizations. The deadline for Members of Congress to sign-on is Friday, 14 April 2006.
Readers who wish to urge their member of Congress to "sign-on" to the "Dear Colleague" may call, email, or fax representatives and ask them to sign this letter. A large number of signatures on the Dear Colleague letter, particularly if they represent both sides of the aisle, will send a very important message to decision-makers within the Transportation/Treasury subcommittee as they begin to work on the mark-up of the FY 2007 appropriations bill.
A draft message that readers can consider using is posted on the "Humanities Advocacy Network" (a joint undertaking of the National Coalition for History, the National Humanities Alliance, and the Federation of State Humanities Councils) at http://www.humanitiesadvocacy.org/action_ctr.html. You can use this site to compose and send e-mails to Congress.
To do so, here is what you do: Click on the web link address above; at the Humanities Advocacy Network main web page click on "Action Center" button (second from the left); next, click on the "Issues and Legislation" "click here" button (3rd button down) and follow the instructions in the "Current Action Alerts" section that pops up next and reads "Save the NHPRC." Additional talking points at this web site are provided to help customize your message. You may also use the Humanities Advocacy Network to compose and print out letters to fax.
All members of Congress can also be reached by phone through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.