The House on Thursday passed a bill to defund NPR, a measure strongly opposed by the White House but one Republicans say will save taxpayer money.
The standalone bill has only a slim chance of becoming law. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe DC bubble is strangling the DNC Dems want Sessions to recuse himself from Trump-Russia probe Ryan says Trump, GOP 'in complete sync' on ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.) did not say whether the upper chamber would consider the legislation, but indicated he does not support defunding.
The White House said the administration “strongly opposes” the bill, but stopped short of making a veto threat.
The GOP-backed measure, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), passed 228-192. One Republican voted present, and seven voted against the bill. No Democrats supported it.
The seven Republicans who voted against the bill include four GOP freshmen — Reps. Sean DuffySean DuffyMajor progressive group unveils first 2018 Senate endorsements GOP rep on Dems skipping inauguration: ‘Put your big-boy pants on’ Huizenga to chair influential subcommittee overseeing Wall Street MORE (Wis.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.) and Rob WoodallRob WoodallBill to overturn last Obama regulations heads to House floor Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Lawmakers clash over race claims in Flint aid delay MORE (Ga.). Of the four, just Duffy and Hanna endured close races in 2010.
Republican Reps. Steven LaTourette (Ohio), Patrick Tiberi (Ohio) and Dave ReichertDavid ReichertArtwork depicting cops as animals permanently removed from Capitol complex Cop painting to be removed from Capitol complex next week Ryan confident painting depicting cops as pigs will come down MORE (Wash.) also voted against defunding public broadcasting. Freshman Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashA well-crafted budget amendment can succeed GOP lawmaker on Trump's Lewis tweets: 'Dude, just stop' House passes Mattis waiver, setting up quick confirmation MORE (R-Mich.) voted present.
Thursday’s vote delivers another blow to NPR, which has suffered a wave of bad press in recent weeks.
NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller was placed on administrative leave last week, following the release of video footage that showed him criticizing the Tea Party and claiming NPR could survive without federal funds. NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller also resigned amid the controversy, reportedly at the behest of the company’s board of directors.
If the legislation were enacted, it would permanently 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. NPR received about $5 million in federal funds last year.
Some Republicans, during the debate on the House floor, accused NPR of a liberal bias, and almost all said it could survive without federal money.
“I happen to be a fan of National Public Radio, but I think the term ‘national treasure’ may just be a little bit of a stretch,” Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said of the Democrats’ defense of NPR.
“We’re not trying to harm NPR,” added freshman Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.). “We’re actually tying to liberate them from federal tax dollars.”
Democrats accused Republicans of holding the NPR vote for political purposes and ignoring jobs and real deficit reduction. One lawmaker attacked the video of NPR executives, filmed by conservative activists, as dishonest.
“James O’Keefe’s dishonest hatchet job has no place in this discussion over the future of one of America’s most important national treasures,” said Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerEx-rep admires furs amid PETA inaugural gala Dem boycotts of inauguration grow WHIP LIST: More than 60 Dems boycotting Trump's inauguration MORE (D-Ore.).
“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,” added Rep. Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyBuying that new-used car: Congress must put safety first Overnight Finance: Scoop – Trump team eyes dramatic spending cuts | Treasury pick survives stormy hearing Senate Dems want Trump to withdraw from Pacific trade deal MORE (D-Mass.).
The GOP has already moved to defund NPR; it attached language to its long-term continuing resolution that strips 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.
The three-week continuing resolution to fund the government, which the Senate approved Thursday afternoon, contains $50 million in cuts to the CPB. Those reductions were also recommended in President Obama’s budget request.
Shane D’Aprile contributed to this article.