House approves $50M hike in CPB support

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to increase CPB’s forward funding to $495 million in fiscal year 2022, $50 million more than the corporation’s current appropriation and the first proposed hike in federal support of public broadcasting in 10 years.

The House also approved $30 million for Ready To Learn in FY20, a $2 million increase. Public TV’s early-childhood education initiative is funded by the Department of Education.

House members also kept level funding of $20 million in FY20 for the interconnection distribution system.

“While we have appreciated steady funding through 10 years of budgetary austerity, the purchasing power of this funding has steadily eroded over time,” said Pat Butler, president of the advocacy organization America’s Public Television Stations, in a statement. The increase “will enable public television stations to educate more children, protect more lives and property, and enable more well-informed citizens to guide the world’s most important democracy,” he said.

CPB President Pat Harrison said in a statement the corporation appreciates the House’s “strong funding support.”

The appropriation increase will allow stations “to create additional educational resources and engagement experiences, prepare job seekers for in-demand careers, and expand local journalism and authentic storytelling.”

The four-bill “minibus,” which passed 225-203, contained the two largest of the 12 appropriation bills, for defense and for labor, health, human services and education.

The Senate continues to work on an overall budget deal to set topline spending for the next two years before moving appropriations bills forward, according to APTS spokesperson Stacey Karp.

If the House, Senate and White House fail to agree on spending levels, the Senate could set its own, “which would likely be much lower than the House level,” Karp said.

“Once a decision is reached on the topline spending level for the Senate bills, the process could move forward quickly this summer and the Labor-HHS-Education bill could be one of the first bills considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee,” she said.

The House and Senate versions need to be reconciled, passed by Congress and signed by the president before FY20 funding is finalized.

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