Amid calls for cuts to the federal budget, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended the National Endowment for the Arts during a floor speech Tuesday, calling Republican proposals “mean-spirited” and saying events like government-funded poetry festivals should not be sacrificed to reduce the deficit.
“The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1, eliminates National Public Broadcasting. Now, that is really saying a lot, madam president. It eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts. These programs create jobs,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said. “The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”
The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, held in Elko, Nevada since 1985, brings in thousands of performers, artists and poets for the week-long festival. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution in 2000 honoring the event.