A bill that would cut federal funding to National Public Radio (NPR) was shot down in the House on Thursday, but the fight isn’t over.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R–Colo.), who sponsored the bill, has tried to cut federal funding for broadcast companies before, and he said he will try again. The next time will be in January when Republicans take control of the House, he said.
“One way or another we need to go after funding for public broadcasting,” Lamborn told HUMAN EVENTS. “There’s simply no need for it in these days of trillion-dollar deficits, if there ever was a need.”
Lamborn introduced a bill in June that would have cut federal funding of the entire Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which funnels money to NPR as well as to PBS. It never made it to the House floor for a vote.
But after NPR fired news analyst Juan Williams, taxpayer funds for public broadcasting have become a prominent issue.
NPR terminated its contract with Williams after he appeared on Fox News and said that, while he isn’t a bigot, he gets nervous on airplanes when he sees passengers in “Muslim garb.” For that action and for other reasons, NPR is often accused of having a liberal bias by conservatives.
In response, Lamborn created a bill that specifically targeted public funding of NPR, rather than the CPB.
Then on Wednesday, that bill received the most votes in the anti-government spending contest “YouCut,” in which Americans can log on to the “YouCut” website and vote on areas they want the government to reduce spending on. The contest is led by Minority Whip Eric Cantor.
“The Juan Williams fiasco [gave us] an opportunity,” Lamborn said, “to grab hold of an issue that’s caught the imagination of many Americans.”
Though Democrats will still have a majority in the Senate, Lamborn said he is working with Sen. Jim DeMint (R–SC) to “defund NPR or even CPB.” DeMint is expected to introduce a similar bill in the Senate.
Lambro said he doesn’t object to any perceived bias at NPR. “I’m objecting to the taxpayer portion of all this,” he said. “Let them be biased if they want to [be]. Let them be liberal if they want to [be]. But do it on their own dime,” he said.
NPR reports to receive only 1% to 3% of its $166 million budget directly from the government. But other reports that take indirect government funding—such as donations from public universities and tax-deductible donations by individuals—into account, say the number is closer to 20%.
Lamborn’s focus is on NPR, but along with reintroducing a bill to block its federal funding in January, he also wants to take another shot at government funding for the whole CPB.
“That would be my goal, if it’s politically doable,” he said. “At a minimum, we could do the more narrow defunding of NPR by itself.”