From the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Governmental Affairs Counsel

SHA Members’ Congressional Visits

Thanks to those of you who participated in Cultural Heritage Partners’ July webinar, “Making Our Voices Heard During August Recess.” An even bigger thanks to members who followed through and visited with members of Congress and their staffers, as well as members of state and local government! If you met with, called or had contact with your Representative or Senator in August, please share your results with Cultural Heritage Partners’ so we can keep track of results and any needed follow-up.

Congress Update

Possible Shutdown?

As tonight’s September 30 end-of-fiscal-year approaches, the House and Senate continue their arguing over the budget and Obamacare. A short-term spending bill (a continuing resolution, or CR) has to pass by midnight to avoid a government shutdown. The shutdown would affect a broad range of services, including forcing a closure of national parks and museums. Seemingly desperate to reach an agreement, Senate Republicans today floated the idea of a 1-week stopgap measure, which their Democrat colleagues seemed unwilling to support. Should a shutdown happen, it is likely to go no more than a few days. The longest shutdown in history lasted 21 days, from December 16, 1995 through January 5, 1996.

A related issue looming on the horizon is the debt: Congress will have to vote to raise the ceiling in mid-October, when Treasury estimates the U.S. will hit the permissible limit.

Syria

Taking most of members’ time until recently was deciding whether to authorize action against Syria, in light of Assad’s use of chemical weapons. After seeing low public and Congressional support, President Obama asked the Senate not to vote on air strikes, and is instead pursuing a diplomatic solution with Russia.

Inside Syria, the war is having a serious adverse effect on archaeology. As the New York Times reported in April, “the country’s archaeological heritage is imperiled by war, facing threats ranging from outright destruction by bombs and bullets to opportunistic digging by treasure hunters who take advantage of the power vacuum to prowl the country with spades and shovels.”

NPS Kicks Off Centennial Website

To celebrate its 100th anniversary coming up in 2016, the National Park Service is inviting the submission of ideas through its “Next Century For Parks” website. Designed to be the home of the parks community, the public is asked to share ideas, successes and solutions for America’s national parks, today and for the next one hundred years, through the new website. NPS is looking for big, creative ideas that can become signature centennial programs. The deadline for consideration is October 20, 2013. You can check out the site here.