White House stops short of veto threat on NPR defunding

The Obama administration on Thursday said it "strongly opposes" a House measure that would permanently defund NPR, but stopped short of making a veto threat. 

The administration publicized its stance on the Republican-sponsored bill just a few hours before the House is expected to vote on it. In lieu of the move to ban funding, the Obama administration noted that the president's budget calls for "targeted reductions" to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the main federal funding arm for NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service.

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"The administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1076, which would unacceptably prohibit federal funding of National Public Radio (NPR) and the use of Federal funds by public radio stations to acquire radio content," reads a statement from the Office of Management and Budget. 

Should the bill pass Congress, the statement indicates that the president might not sign it into law, although the administration did not say specifically how President Obama would handle the bill.

It remains unclear if the Democrat-controlled Senate will pass the measure if the House advances it.

Republicans have argued that cutting off NPR from the federal government would help reduce the $1.6 trillion federal budget deficit and claim that NPR can operate without taxpayer funds. But advocates for NPR say the network needs federal funds, especially to broadcast in underserved areas.

"The administration has expressed openness to other spending reductions that are reasonable," the statement says. "However, CPB serves an important public purpose in supporting public radio, television, and related online and mobile services ... Undercutting funding for these radio stations, notably ones in rural areas where such outlets are already scarce, would result in communities losing valuable programming, and some stations could be forced to shut down altogether."