House Passes Bill To Block Funds to NPR

March 17, 2011 12:38 p.m.

The House approved a bill Thursday that would bock federal funding to NPR and affiliate stations, drawing the condemnation of the White House, which opposed the legislation.

The final tally was 228-192, largely on party lines. No Democrats voted for it while seven Republicans voted against it. In speeches ahead of the vote, a number of Democrats mocked Republicans for targeting the public broadcaster with a variety of puns based on popular NPR programs.

The bill is considered dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but was fast-tracked in the House via an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee yesterday. A number of Democrats, such as Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), objected to the process, arguing that such urgency was unseemly in the wake of ongoing disasters abroad and a looming government shutdown.“We have many emergencies to deal with in our county, but attacking and crippling NPR is hardly an emergency,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), co-chair of the Public Broadcasting Caucus.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said in his floor speech that NPR’s content made it it a target.

“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,” Cantor said. “That’s the bottom line.”

The bill passed nine days after conservative provocateur James O’Keefe released a video of NPR executives dining with a phony Muslim group posing as prospective donors. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller has since resigned over the video, which showed NPR Foundation president Ron Schiller (no relation) mocking the Tea Party and suggesting that NPR may be better off without federal funding.

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