House Supports Ending Federal Funding for NPR

Posted March 17, 2011 at 3:45pm

Updated: 5:22 p.m.

The House voted Thursday to pass a bill that would ban National Public Radio from receiving federal funds, a move that quickly drew sharp attacks from Democrats.

The 228-192 vote was largely along party lines, with seven Republicans voting with Democrats against the measure. No Democrats voted for the measure.

The bill would also ban NPR from using federal money to buy programming. 

“This is just the latest assault by the House Republicans to cut funding based not on what will save the most money, but on what will score the most political points,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement following the floor vote. “It is reckless, irresponsible, and shameful.” 

Republican support for the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), grew after a video surfaced last week of NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller making controversial comments regarding the tea party and questioning whether NPR needs federal funding. Both Schiller and NPR CEO and President Vivian Schiller resigned following the video’s release. The two Schillers are not related.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said before the vote that the bill “is about making sure that we are spending taxpayer dollars the way that the people that earn them would spend them.”

“The problem is, we’ve seen NPR and its programming often veer far from what most Americans would like to see as far as the expenditure of their taxpayer dollars,” the Virginia Republican added. “That’s the bottom line. Nobody’s on a rampage. Nobody is trying to say that we don’t like NPR for NPR’s sake. We’ve seen how they spend their money. It’s time to prioritize.”

Before the vote on passage, Democrats put forward a motion to recommit to allow NPR to receive federal funds in order to broadcast Amber Alerts, a Justice Department program that uses government agencies and the media to locate missing children. The motion was defeated 184-235 along party lines.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the bill and Republicans for not making an exception for the Amber Alert funding.

“Defunding public radio may fulfill a Republican campaign promise, but it does not create jobs and it does nothing to reduce the deficit,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “What’s more, it could endanger our children — as every House Republican voted to halt funding for radio networks that play a crucial role in alerting the public to missing and abducted children.”