In wake of conservative James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas sting videos of National Public Radio (NPR) senior executives, House Republicans are set to vote Thursday to defund NPR completely. They’re expected to pass a bill that would pull all taxpayer money out of NPR, including the money that’s funneled through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
The bill’s sponsor, Congressman Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican, told The Daily Caller he thinks NPR will survive in a free market situation. But, even if it wouldn’t, he questions the need to fuel it with taxpayer money.
“Certainly, it would survive,” Lamborn said. “They have a loyal following. With the turnover in leadership we’re seeing there, I hope we see new leaders with a free market approach, a private-sector approach.”
By turnover in leadership, Lamborn is referring to how NPR CEO Vivian Schiller and NPR foundation nonprofit president Ron Schiller (no relation) were ousted after O’Keefe’s videos.
Lamborn admits, though, that “the Senate will be more of a problem” than getting a bill through the House. “I’m kind of relying on the Senate sponsor of a very similar bill, Jim DeMint of South Carolina,” he said.
Media Research Center president Brent Bozell told TheDC that it’s possible that Republicans could get Senate Democrats to support defunding NPR if they frame it the right way.
“This is such a no-brainer, both from the standpoint of ideology and the standpoint of money and a complete lack of need, that if someone is not willing to consider hacking this out of the budget, then that person is just simply not serious about reining in deficit spending,” Bozell said.
Bozell said O’Keefe’s video is not the reason for renewed NPR defunding calls, but it adds to public spectacle of the matter. “What the O’Keefe video does is it gives flavor,” Bozell said. “It gives a great look inside the head of people at NPR – but, we already knew.”
Bozell said he “feared” that NPR firing Vivian Schiller and Ron Schiller would mean, “all is well with NPR now,” and defunding calls would cease. But, he said, he’s glad that isn’t the case.
Republicans defunded CPB in HR 1, the long-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government through the end of the fiscal year. But, NPR receives money from other governmental sources and Lamborn’s bill would cut that off. The short-term two- or three-week CRs that Congress has passed as of late did not include defunding for NPR in them – or any other budget ‘riders,’ language that prohibits funds from being used for a specific purpose.
Democrats from the House Rules Committee have said this push for cutting NPR funding is a reactionary response to O’Keefe’s videos. Lamborn disagrees, adding that he has had a bill ready to go since the beginning of this Congressional session. He said he also proposed cutting NPR funding last Congress, “before even the Juan Williams incident,” so he said he’s been “pursuing this not as an ideological issue, but as a spending issue.”
“We have to get spending under control and what better place to start than a program that has outlived its usefulness,” Lamborn said.
Another criticism of cutting funding from NPR has been that its current $430 million and President Barack Obama’s proposed $451 million isn’t a lot of money compared to other programs or budget items. “Only in Washington would you say $430 million, almost half a billion dollars, is not serious money,” Lamborn responds to that criticism. “There’s no single program that’s going to cover the entire deficit so you have to a series of steps to attack the debt incrementally and this is one of many concessions that will have to take place.”