The House on Thursday voted to end federal funding to National Public Radio. Republican supporters said it made good fiscal sense, and Democratic opponents called it an ideological attack that would deprive local stations of access to programs such as "Car Talk" and "All Things Considered."
The bill, passed 228-192 along mainly partisan lines, would bar federal funding of NPR and prohibit local public stations from using federal money to pay NPR dues and buy its programs. The prospects of support in the Democratic-controlled Senate are slim. Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill.
NPR received almost $5 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2010. In that year its revenues also included $2.8 million in dues and $63 million in programming fees from local stations, its largest single source of revenue. Under the bill, stations would still be allowed to buy NPR programs using private funds and use federal funds to produce their own programs.
"It is time for American citizens to stop funding an organization that can stand on its own feet," said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., the sponsor. He said it was not a question of content - which many conservatives say has a liberal bias - but whether taxpayer dollars should go to nonessential services. "As a country we no longer have this luxury."
Other Republicans also denied that the measure was a vendetta against NPR, although the organization left itself open to conservative attacks last week when an executive, talking to conservative activists posing as members of a fake Muslim group, was caught on camera deriding the tea party movement and saying the NPR would be better off without federal funding. Both the executive and the president of NPR resigned after the incident.