Posted on Friday, November 19, 2010
House Democrats on Thursday shot down a G.O.P. attempt to roll back federal funding to NPR, a move that many Republicans have called for since the public radio network fired the analyst Juan Williams last month.
Republicans in the House tried to advance the defunding measure as part of their “YouCut” initiative, which allows the public to vote on which spending cuts the G.O.P. should pursue. But their push was blocked, 239 to 171, with only three Democrats voting with a united bloc of Republicans.
Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican who is set to become majority leader in the next Congress, said the vote showed Democrats had failed to learn the lessons of this month’s midterm elections.
“Today’s vote was just the latest common sense YouCut to cut spending and save taxpayer dollars, and again Democrats showed that they just don’t get it,” Mr. Cantor said in a statement.
For his part, Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon, who formed the Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus, called the Republican effort cynical and politically motivated.
“I urge members of both parties to focus our efforts on the urgent priorities facing this Congress and stop playing political games with public radio stations,” Mr. Blumenauer said in a statement.
NPR released its own statement following the action in the House on Thursday, calling the defunding push unwarranted and saying good judgment had won the day.
“In an increasingly fractious media environment, public radio’s value in fostering an informed society has never been more critical. Our growing audience shows that we are meeting that need,” the statement said. “It is imperative for federal funding to continue to ensure that this essential tool of democracy remains available to all Americans and thrives well into the future.”
House Republicans made no secret that the ouster of Mr. Williams was a major reason for their efforts. Representative Doug Lamborn of Colorado said Wednesday in a statement that the firing “was a wake-up call for many Americans to political correctness and liberal bias at NPR.”
“However,” he added, “it is not so much the liberal bias that offends me, but the fact that our tax dollars are funding it.”
While NPR receives support from a variety of different sources, federal funding appears to account for a relatively small portion of what the group takes in.
By BERNIE BECKER NEW YORK TIMES