The amendment from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oreg.) restoring CPB funds to the Continuing Resolution under debate in the House was gavelled down on a procedural matter just before midnight last night (Feb. 16). Blumenauer's Amendment 436 would have provided $460 million in fiscal 2013 CPB funding by doing away with IRS tax breaks on oil or gas wells. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) raised a point of order that the funding offset was not allowed; the Chair agreed.
"It’s not that Democrats tried to do something nonsensical here, it’s that Republicans have set up the rules to tie our hands," Blumenauer spokesman Derek Schlickeisen told Current. "If you’re going to offset the funding for CPB, you have to do it within the Labor-HHS bill, as opposed to anywhere else within the budget. That’s what Republicans objected to. This forces us to find the offset within a very narrow set of programs that families depend on and which are not wasteful."
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), author of H.R. 68 (to defund CPB) and H.R. 69 (to zero out NPR programming) funding, said he "personally enjoys some of the programming, but it's not the issue whether we like it or not. It's whether taxpayers should subsidize this, when [public broadcasters] are perfectly capable of surviving and thriving in the open market."
Nevertheless, supporters including Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) – who stood beside a poster of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie being handed a pink piece of paper reading, "GOPink Slip. You are fired." – continued speaking on the value of public broadcasting.
When Markey began discussing elimination of the the oil and gas deductions, he was met with an objection by Rehberg that Markey's time to speak had expired. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) yielded back one minute to Markey, who said the objection was understandable, as Rehberg supports those tax breaks. "This is a misallocation of resources to big oil instead of Big Bird," Markey said.
C-SPAN is estimating a final vote on the CR is "possible late today." Republicans are still trying to cut a total of $61 billion from the current fiscal year's budget.
To recap the funding picture for CPB at this point:
For 2011: If enacted, this CR would rescind any unobligated CPB funds for this year.
For 2012: The general CPB account for 2012 ($445 million, forward funded in FY10) is safe. A total of $86 million for specific items was cut (station economic stabilization, $25 million; digital upgrades, $36 million; and radio interconnection, $25 million).
For 2013: The FY11 request for FY2013 zeros out all public broadcasting support. The President’s request in FY11 (for 2013) was $460 million, and that was the amount in the draft appropriations bill for FY11 that Blumenauer sought to restore.