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Republicans in the House seek to cut PBS funding (again)

With public opinion and the current economic times weighted against it, House Republicans are again trying to cut appropriations for public broadcasting.

In a prepared statement, The House Appropriations Committee said the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has been funded through advance appropriations in previous years. Last week, through a markup session, a subcommittee voted to cut that funding.

“This year, the bill does not provide an advance appropriation for CPB for fiscal year 2015, which is consistent with the budget resolution,” the statement said. “To encourage CPB to operate exclusively on private funds, the bill rescinds $111.3 million of the fiscal year 2013 advanced appropriation, and $222.5 million of the fiscal year 2014 advanced appropriation.”

The legislation also prohibits FY13 funding “to pay dues to, acquire programs from, or otherwise support National Public Radio.” That’s the same language used in a bill last year that attempted to reduce funding for NPR, which passed the House but not the Senate.

The current Republican-controlled House added a wide range of cuts to its draft fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill, which includes the CPB funding. Though it passed out of a subcommittee last week, but will probably never reach the House floor for a vote before this year’s election.

In total, the draft bill includes $150 billion in discretionary funding, which is a cut of $6.3 billion below last year’s level and $8.8 billion below President Obama’s budget request. This funding level is more than $2 billion below the amount provided in fiscal year 2009.

In addition to the CPB cuts, the bill would defund, among a long list of programs, ObamaCare, and funding for the Job Corps, Veterans Employment and Training, mine safety, health resources, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Social Security Administration, the National Labor Relations Board and the administration on aging, children and families.

The bill, however threatening to many agencies and government programs, was a much political posturing as anything. It demonstrates clearly what’s at stake in the coming election for institutions like public broadcasting if Republicans take control of both bodies of Congress.

Even the committee’s ranking member, Norm Dicks (R-Wash.), said he hopes the bill helps Democrats reclaim the House. “I hope the American people will judge them as we judge them,” he said. “They ought to support Democrats, who will not come up with cuts like this.”

Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said if the legislation passed it would clearly begin the elimination of CPB funding. “This action is in stark contrast to the overwhelming trust and value the American people place in our country’s public broadcasting service,” Harrison said.

The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) said it was “deeply disappointed” in the proposed cuts in funding.

“This proposal flies in the face of the will of the American people, who routinely rank public broadcasting as one of the best investments the federal government makes and who overwhelmingly support our work and our public service mission, across the ideological spectrum,” said Patrick Butler, APTS president and CEO.

“Our total federal funding has been cut by 13 percent over the past two fiscal years, and while this loss of funding has hurt our system significantly, we have never argued that we should be immune to the sacrifice that all Americans are being asked to make to help bring the federal deficit and national debt under control,” he continued.

“But the House Labor-H proposal to eliminate our funding entirely would mean the end of public broadcasting in America, as the Government Accountability Office found in 2007 and as a study requested by the Labor-H Subcommittee last year has just concluded.”

CPB provides funding to almost 1,300 non-commercial television and radio stations.