Republicans insisted that they held no political grudge against NPR, and said the recent video of NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller saying NPR doesn't need federal funds is a signal that funding can be cut.
"If we look at the sting video that has received so much attention, Ron Schiller admits that NPR would be better off without NPR funding," Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said. "There is no need for further debate."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) agreed that Schiller's comments are helpful for a Congress that is looking to cut spending.
"We are all about looking for ways to cut right now and save on both sides of the aisle," he said. "We ought to take that advice for what it is."
Democrats alternately criticized Republicans for cutting a valuable service, and mocked them by casting their proposal as an attack on specific NPR radio hosts.
"What a relief," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said. "We finally found out our problem. We've discovered a target that we can all agree upon. It's these guys. This is the problem. It's Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers. We're finally getting rid of them. Thank God we solved this problem for the country."
House Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said Republicans told her on Wednesday that taxpayers should not have to pay for items they disagree with, which she rejected.
"Well, that's an interesting theory, but democracies don't work that way," Slaughter said. "If they could, my husband and I and two-thirds of people in America would gladly be excused from paying the $8 billion a month that we pay for a war that we profoundly disagree with."
Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) used his time on the floor to reject Democratic arguments that NPR is a national treasure that should be protected. "I think that the term 'national treasure' may just be a little bit of a stretch," he said.
The White House on Thursday said it does not support the NPR defunding bill, but regardless, it is not expected to advance in the Democrat-controlled Senate.