Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) took to the House floor Thursday (July 19) to defend federal funding for public broadcasting in the wake of a House Appropriation subcommittee's passage of a spending bill that would slash upcoming money for CPB and defund it totally in fiscal 2015.
Blumenauer said in the nearly five-minute statement that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his party "listen to a tiny fraction of the American public that is even a minority in their own party. Polls show that two-thirds of Republicans surveyed would either keep federal funding for public broadcasting as it is, or increase it. But what resonates with Republican primary voters is not what America wants, needs or believes."
Blumenauer noted that Romney has singled out public broadcasting as one of five projects that he would eliminate if elected president.
Meanwhile, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), who sponsored legislation last year to defund NPR (Current, March 21, 2011) that passed the House but not the Senate, issued a statement Thursday praising the current bill.
"This would put public broadcasters on a glide path to independence," Lamborn said, "and finally get Big Bird out of the nest! I believe public broadcasters are perfectly capable of making it without government subsidies. While many Americans are making sacrifices around the country to make ends meet, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has been unwilling to do the same. Even as media and information have become more accessible than ever, funding for CPB has exploded. Over the last decade, CPB's funding has increased nearly 31 percent, from $340 [million] to $441 million."
Also on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), widely considered a contender to be Romney's running mate, appeared on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR — and said he opposed government support for NPR.
"I think today there is no shortage of broadcasting options available to people," Rubio said. "I think this is an excellent program, for example, and I can guarantee you that if NPR was unable to function because of it — there are plenty of other commercial outlets that would love to have The Diane Rehm Show . . . I think we're in a different era now than we were 50 or 60 years ago where maybe the importance of public broadcasting was heightened."
Rehm pointed out that without federal support, "an awful lot of those smaller stations across the country would go dark."
"This is a new issue for me," Rubio admitted. "We didn't really confront this issue in the state legislature. But my general feeling about it is, at least my initial impression on it is that at a time when there are so many broadcast options available, I mean, I have 300 stations on my satellite radio. Does the federal government need to be involved in the broadcasting business? So you may have a good answer as to why we should be, and I'm always willing to listen to those arguments."
A full transcript of the conversation is here.