Yesterday, the House narrowly voted to defund NPR by prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used by local radio stations to purchase NPR content. Every single Democrat voted against the bill, joined by seven Republicans, and one, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who voted “present.” Amash opposes taxpayer funding for NPR, but explained his opposition in a statement to Fox News by noting that the bill voted on yesterday would not save a dime of taxpayer money:
The federal government does not subsidize NPR directly. Instead, the government funds the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a government entity, which has discretion to provide funding to whichever private radio producers it chooses. H R 1076 does not actually save taxpayer dollars; it merely blocks CPB from exercising its discretion to send funding to NPR. The funds CPB does not send to NPR under the bill are returned to CPB to be spent subsidizing other private radio producers. I offered an amendment in the Rules Committee to require that any funds not sent to NPR be redirected to pay down the deficit, but the amendment was ruled out of order. Therefore, public broadcasting will not see any reduction in federal funding even if this bill becomes law.
Republicans have claimed stripping taxpayer dollars from NPR is about the need to cut spending and rein in the deficit. “[W]e are all about looking for ways to cut right now and save,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said after the vote yesterday. “[W]e’ve got to listen to the executives at N.P.R. that say they don’t need taxpayer funding.” But as Amash and many Democrats have correctly pointed out, the bill doesn’t actually save taxpayer money — it merely moves around money already allocated to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, away from NPR and to other public broadcasting operations. Amash also wrote that the bill is “arguably unconstitutional and definitely violates the Rule of Law,” because “it likely is a bill of attainder.”