NPR House update, vote set for this afternoon

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Debate is now set to begin later today on H.R. 1076, which would prohibit federal funding to NPR.

During morning discussions, some of which focused on a procedural rule associated with the bill, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) reported that he offered an amendment that would “prohibit federal funds — taxpayer dollars — from being used for advertising on the partisan, political platform of Fox News.” According to a Rand Study, he said, the Department of Defense spent $6 million in advertising in 2007; he called for the Government Accountability Office to study “how and where this money is being spent.”

His effort to amend the bill was defeated in the House Rules Committee during an emergency meeting Wednesday (March 16).

Some discussion this morning focused on the speed that brought the bill to the floor. Last July, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised that a Republican House majority in the 112th Congress would ensure that all bills will be posted online 72 hours before a vote. Several Democrats noted that H.R. 1076 was posted at 1:42 p.m. Tuesday, which would make it eligible for a vote at 1:42 p.m. on Friday. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), speaker pro tem, said the rule “means three calendar days,” drawing sustained boo’s from Democrats. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) shouted over the ruckus, “For clarity in the House, did this bill age 72 hours?” to which Poe replied, “The chair will not respond to hypothetical questions” — bringing more loud booing.

Other highlights of the morning’s discussion:

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) — “The Republican legislation attacking National Public Radio would drive Car Talk off the road and would wipe Lake Wobegon right off the map. It would close down Marketplace and tell  Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me to take a hike. This misguided bill would snuff out stations from coast-to-coast, many in rural areas where the public radio station is the primary source of news and information.”

Rep. David Drier (R-Calif.) — “If we don’t take on the $14 trillion national debt and $1.6 trillion annual deficit we’re not going to be implementing pro-growth economic policies. … I’m proud to support three local stations, KPCC and KCRW, and WAMU, and I participate in pledge drives. I believe in voluntary contributions. … In fact, when NPR is successfully weaned away from compulsory taxpayer dollars, I personally will increase my level of contributions.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) — “We need to go back to basic principles here.” In 1934, when the Federal Communications Commission was established, “people were given broadcast licenses to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. The public owns the airwaves. … This is about a basic public right, and if you take that right away, what you’ve done is totally capitulate to corporate interests in America.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) — “We’re not here to debate content, but we have to deal with fiscal reality. Every time we turn around, nobody wants to cut anything. Every time we make a decision about spending, we’re talking about, should we go into somebody’s pocket, pull money out and give it to somebody else? We’re not only doing that, we’re borrowing money to do it. NPR is wildly successful, listenership is rising. That gives a lot of us belief that we’re really moving toward a model where they can sustain themselves rather than relying on taxpayers. … We don’t have any money, we’re broke.”

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