House to vote on NPR defunding bill Thursday

The House plans to vote Thursday on a bill that would remove funding for NPR, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) office.

The House Rules Committee is expected advance to the bill on Wednesday, clearing its way for a floor vote.

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If the legislation were enacted, it would prohibit direct federal funding to NPR, ban public radio stations from using federal funds to pay their NPR dues and prevent those stations from using federal dollars to buy programming.

The GOP has already tried to defund NPR, attaching language to their long-term continuing resolution that would have stripped money for  the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the entity that funds NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service. That bill failed to clear the Senate. 

A memo from Cantor's office says the new bill, H.R. 1076, would prohibit other federal funding from going to NPR. According to the memo, NPR received over $5 million last year from the CPB, Department of Education, Department of Commerce and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) complained that the GOP has rushed through the bill to the floor.

"This bill has not received one iota of input from the American public. Instead Republicans are rushing a bill through what they describe as an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee and violating their own pledge to allow 72 hours for members to ‘read the bill,'" she said in a statement. "There have been no committee hearings or markups. This is hardly the open and deliberative process we were promised by the majority."

A slew of Republican leaders called for cuts to NPR after conservative activist James O'Keefe released video footage of an NPR fundraiser criticizing conservatives and claiming that the public radio conglomerate does not need federal funds to operate.

The incident led to that executive's resignation, and to the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller. 

Republicans say the episode demonstrated that NPR shows a left-wing bias and does not deserve federal funding, especially with the nation facing a $1.6 trillion budget deficit. They also say that NPR has demonstrated it can survive without taxpayer funds.

Advocates for NPR have argued that it needs the funds, and that public television and radio stations across the country would be hurt if the GOP blocks funding.

Even if the House were to pass the bill, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), the Democratic-controlled Senate could block it. President Obama has also defended federal funds for public broadcasting.

-- This post was updated at 5:03 p.m.