House Rules Committee votes to take a bite out of NPR


H.R. 1076 is a bill that proposes to take all funding away from National Public Radio, while avoiding taking a direct bite out of local noncommercial radio stations that carry NPR. And the local stations would be allowed to run NPR programming – however, they could not use federal cash to pay dues to NPR or to buy any NPR programming. The bill passed.

Energy and Commerce committee members Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) appeared before the committee to answer questions in favor of the bill and against, respectively.

The Republican argument was that in a time of budgetary crisis, taxpayers should not be expected to fund programming with which they may not agree.

Democrats were astonished that the Rules session, billed as an “emergency” session, had nothing to do with job creation or deficit reductions and said it was strictly an ideological exercise.

Committee Chair David Dreier (R-CA) said he agreed with both sides, but said the combination of the Juan Williams firing and the James O’Keefe sting warranted the emergency action.

Jim McGovern (D-MA) said a discredited activist made a deceptively edited sting video, and that was no reason to defund NPR. Meanwhile, he said that FNC is clearly biased, giving hours of time to conservative pundits and potential Republican presidential candidates. He said the whole bill is dangerous and purely ideological and called it a very slippery slope. He added that just as some taxpayers may not wish to support NPR, he as a taxpayer does not wish to support FNC. He proposed an amendment prohibiting any federal money being spent for advertising on Fox News Channel or its website.

Dreier said the amendment was non-germane, saying they were apple/orange issues, and that the decision of a government agency to use a network to reach a large audience, or in other words, receiving specific promotional value for money spent, is not related to public money being spent on public broadcasting.

The amendment was defeated, as was another to embark on a study of where government advertising expenditures are going.