WASHINGTON — The House voted Thursday to cut off financing for National Public Radio, with Democrats and Republican fiercely divided over both the content of the bill and how it was brought to the floor.
Across the Rotunda, the Senate approved a short-term spending measure passed earlier in the week by the House that would keep the government financed through April 8. Members of both parties and chambers said the move, which once again averted a government shutdown, should be the last of its kind. The measure, which cut spending by $6 billion for this fiscal year, passed the Senate 87-13, with nine Republicans, three Democrats and an independent voting in dissent.
As in the House, some of the Senate’s more conservative members voted against the spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, arguing that its cuts were insufficient. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered his own plan, which he said would balance the federal budget in five years by eliminating the departments of education and energy, among other measures.
Senate Republican leaders backed the stop-gap measure, praising the $6 billion in cuts that came on top of $4 billion in reductions contained in the current budget bill, which expires Friday. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said that over 10 years, the $10 billion in cuts will amount to $140 billion in savings. “All in all, a good day’s work,” he said.
The NPR bill, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., would mean that stations could not buy programming from NPR or any other source using the $22 million they get from the federal government.
The bill, should the Senate even bring it to the floor, is almost certain to fail in that chamber. Democrats control the Senate, where members of both parties have expressed skepticism about cutting off NPR because it remains popular among many of their constituents.
The organization, in the crosshairs of Republican lawmakers for years, came under intense fire recently with the release of a video that showed one of its fundraising executives criticizing members of the Tea Party, and the hasty firing of the commentator Juan Williams for remarks he made on Fox News about Muslims.
NPR expressed grave concern in a statement today about the impact of the bill on the entire public radio system, saying it was a direct effort to weaken it that would ultimately choke local stations’ ability to serve their audiences.