About Cultural Heritage Partners

Marion Werkheiser is an attorney with Cultural Heritage Partners, which serves as the government affairs consultant to the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Congressional Attack on National Science Foundation Funding: FIRST Act Moves To Next Phase

by Eden Burgess

On March 13, 2014, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act, or FIRST Act (H.R. 4186), was referred to the full Committee on Science, Space, and Technology for the next phase towards passage by the House.

The FIRST Act, introduced by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the Committee, and Larry Bucshon (R-IN), addresses funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The bill particularly targets social science funding, originally proposing 42% cuts to the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE). Amendments made during markup softened the cuts to the SBE somewhat, reducing funding (to $200M) by 22% from FY14 levels. The SBE Directorate supports “research that builds fundamental knowledge of human behavior, interaction, and social and economic systems, organizations and institutions.” Archaeological projects typically fall within SBE’s purview.

NSF’s Board took the unprecedented step of publicly criticizing the pending legislation, saying in a statement released on April 24 that “some of its provisions and tone suggest that Congress intends to impose constraints that would compromise NSF’s ability to fulfill its statutory purpose.”

SHA has already taken steps to oppose cuts like those proposed in the FIRST Act, circulating a change.org petition in December 2013 asking that signers express their support for public funding of archaeological research. In April, before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s hearing “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments,” SHA submitted testimony expressing its support for NSF funding. We believe that archaeological research funded by NSF and other public organizations:

  • Brings together the economic benefits of preservation, heritage tourism, and job opportunities in  a variety of fields (cultural resources management, museums, academia and others)
  • Provides unique educational and enrichment opportunities for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds
  • Gives voice to everyday Americans who may not otherwise appear in mainstream historical narratives
  • Promotes career paths in the sciences

Urge your Representative to vote against the FIRST Act, and tell him/her that Archaeology Matters! (Find your Rep here.)

 

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.

Help the Society for Historical Archaeology make an impact on the Hill

Join us for a Webinar on Thursday, July 25.

Congress’ summer recess is fast approaching. What does that mean to SHA and to you? August is a great time to invite Representatives and Senators to visit local archaeological, historical and architectural sites, and to learn about the importance of cultural heritage education and preservation.  It is also a chance for us to advocate for funding for SHPO offices, curation efforts and Section 106.

Please join SHA’s government affairs counsel Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC on Thursday, July 25, at 1 pm EDT for a 30-minute webinar: “Making Our Voices Heard During August Recess.” Cultural Heritage Partners attorneys Marion Werkheiser and Eden Burgess will teach you how to reach out to local Congressional offices, prepare for visits, deliver SHA’s message, and make an impact that lasts. Join us and get empowered!

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/750123079

Title: Making Our Voices Heard During August Recess
Date: Thursday, July 25, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT [1 hour scheduled to allow for Q&A]

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.