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Rushing to Defund Public Radio

March 16, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

House Republicans today are kicking off a new push to block federal funding for NPR and NPR affiliate stations. They’re using the controversy stirred up by an activist’s doctored “sting” video to call an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee this afternoon to bring legislation to the floor that would eliminate all federal funding for “non-commercial, educational radio,” permanently. The bill, H.R.1706, hasn’t received a single hearing and it has not gone through the committee mark-up process that is where most of the real work on bills typically takes place. It’s been drafted in the past few days since the video broke and it’s being rushed to a vote while the controversy is still hot.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug Lamborn [R, CO-5], describes NPR’s federal funding as a “crutch” and say he believes they would be better off competing for funding directly with commercial talk radio, like Air America and the Salem Radio Network. “Taxpayers should not be on the hook for something that is widely available in the private market,” Lamborn says.

House Republicans have already approved an amendment to the FY2011 continuing resolution that would completely eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is the (indirect) source of federal NPR funding. However, the continuing resolution is stalled indefinitely after being loaded up with contentious special-interest policy riders. That’s why the Republicans are moving forward now, amidst all the turmoil, with Lamborn’s stand-alone bill. The bill will be approved by the Rules Committee this afternoon, probably with an accompanying “closed” rule that blocks amendments and limits debate. The full House vote is already scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

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