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House votes to permanently bar NPR from receiving federal funds

On a party-line vote, the House passes legislation to permanently bar NPR from receiving federal funds. This latest move by conservatives against the broadcaster comes after a 'sting' video involving an NPR staffer. The measure is likely to go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

March 17, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau
  • Vivian Schiller resigned as National Public Radio CEO amid controversy surrounding anti-"tea party" comments made by another NPR executive.
Vivian Schiller resigned as National Public Radio CEO amid controversy… (Associated Press )

Reporting from Washington – — In a mostly party-line vote, the House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would permanently bar NPR from receiving federal funds, the latest escalation in conservatives' campaign against the broadcaster.

Republicans already voted to eliminate all federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the current fiscal year, which helps public stations buy NPR programming, but the provision was not incorporated into the continuing agreements that have kept the government funded.

The latest vote was 228 to 192, with one lawmaker voting "present."

The new bill, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), would allow public stations to take federal funds from the CPB, but would prohibit them from buying programs from the broadcaster formerly known as National Public Radio with the money.

The White House issued a statement before the vote strongly opposing the measure, saying it threatened rural communities that rely on public radio stations for news and public safety information.

Speaking on the House floor before the vote, Lamborn said such objections are outdated in an age of digital streaming and satellite radio.

"I'd like to see NPR rework its business model and begin to compete for all of its income," Lamborn said. "NPR can and should be entirely supported with private sources."

Democrats raised a procedural objection to the vote, saying the timing violated Republicans' own pledge to allow 72 hours to elapse after legislation is posted online before a vote on final passage.

The measure is likely to go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The move comes after a video "sting" by conservative activist James O'Keefe that appeared to show former NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller criticizing the "tea party" movement as a collection of "gun-toting" racists and "fundamentalist Christians" who have "hijacked" the Republican Party. He also was quoted as saying that the organization could survive "in the long run" without government help.

A subsequent review of the video footage by a conservative website associated with commentator Glenn Beck concluded that, while Schiller said many of the things attributed to him, the tape was edited in a way to take several statements out of context and omit others.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

James Oliphant contributed to this report

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