Republican efforts to cut off federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and NPR are unlikely to advance past the House, as both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the White House are weighing in with their opposition.
On Thursday, the House debated the resolution, which would bar NPR from receiving federal grants. The bill would also prohibit local member stations from buying NPR content with federal grant money. On Tuesday, the House voted to cut $50 million from the CPB, which helps fund both NPR and PBS.
"Taxpayers should not be on the hook for something that is widely available in the private market," said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who introduced the measure.
In Reid, NPR has an important fan. He frequently cites reports on NPR, which he listens to in the morning.
"I listen to NPR every day,” Reid said in a statement issued on Thursday to National Journal Daily. “Like many Americans, my children and I have benefited from the educational and news programs public radio provides every day of the year. Public radio and the top-notch journalists it employs are valuable resources to people of all ages across the country and I can't understand why Republicans would want to take that away from them."
Reid is likely to block action on the bill in the Senate, though Republicans could try to force a vote on a similar amendment.
Also on Thursday, the White House issued a statement of administration policy announcing that the administration “strongly opposes” the bill. The statement suggests the bill would draw a veto, though it stops short of an explicit veto threat.
Thursday’s floor time was marked by passionate debate over the role of NPR, with Republicans insisting the organization doesn’t need federal money while Democrats called the GOP measure a partisan ploy.
The presiding speaker pro tempore was momentarily the subject of boos and shouts when Democrats complained that the resolution violated the House’s pledge to provide 72 hours for consideration of a bill.
This article appears in the March 17, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.