House of Representatives Passes Bill Eliminating NPR's Federal Funding
The House of Representatives has passed a bill that bans any federal funding for National Public Radio and affiliated public broadcasting stations. By a vote of 228 to 192, which broke largely along party lines, the House passed the legislation, favored by Republicans who have been critical of NPR, charging that it pursues a liberal agenda.
While only about 2% of NPR's budget comes through competitive grants from federal agencies like the Departments of Education and Commerce, the Corp. for Public Broadcasting, which also receives funds from the federal government, passes along about $94 million to public radio stations, which in turn pay programming fees to NPR, accounting for about 34% of NPR's annual revenues, used to produce shows like All Things Considered and Fresh Air.
"At a time when other news organizations are cutting back and the voices of pundits are drowning out fact-based reporting and thoughtful analysis, NPR and public radio stations are delivering in-depth news and information respectfully and with civility," NRP interim CEO Joyce Slocum said. "It would be a tragedy for America to lose this national treasure."
NPR has come under attack from conservative politicians for firing commentator Juan Williams in October and for statements made by a former NPR fund-raising executive who was caught calling the Tea Party racist in a sting operation.
NPR CEO Vivian Schiller resigned last week in the wake of the controversies.
Supporters of NPR have argued that a federal ban would hurt local public broadcasting stations.
In a statement released prior to the vote by its Office of Management and Budget, the White House opposed the bill, saying, "The vast majority of [the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's] funding for public radio goes to more than 700 stations across the country, many of them local stations serving communities that rely on them for access to news and public safety information. Undercutting funding for these radio stations, notably ones in rural areas where such outlets are already scarce, would result in communities losing valuable programming, and some stations could be forced to shut down altogether."
The legislation now goes to the Democratically-controlled Senate, where it is not expected to move forward.