Republicans’ proposed budget would zero out CPB funding

By Ben Mook

Paul Ryan

Ryan (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Though its chances of advancing in Congress are considered slim, the proposed budget put forth this week by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan would zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Ryan said in the budget document released Tuesday that federal subsidies for CPB and the National Endowment for the Humanities could “no longer be justified.”

“The activities and content funded by these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government,” the document reads. “These agencies can raise funds from private-sector patrons, which will also free them from any risk of political interference.”

The proposed budget does not stipulate whether the zeroed-out funding would apply to the already appropriated two-year funding cycle, or whether it would be implemented after the forward-funded cycle.

Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, said the proposal was expected. Ryan’s staffers told Butler a few weeks ago that the proposed budget would include zeroed-out funding.

“He’s been proposing to zero out funding as long as he’s been chairman of the Budget Committee,” Butler said. “We were not surprised he put this into his budget.”

Butler said that most people he has talked to say that the proposed budget, which also calls for defunding the Affordable Care Act, did not have a good chance of getting through Congress.

“We agree with everyone else around town that this won’t get too far,” Butler said. “I think this is more of a statement from the chairman.”

Beyond the proposed budget, Butler said, state and federal lawmakers have pushed to maintain or restore funding across the system. About two dozen GOP governors have held or restored funding, Butler said, and more than 260 members of Congress have signed letters of support for funding of public media.

“There’s been quiet but significant progress in gaining bipartisan support,” Butler said. “And we’re going to continue to pursue that strategy.”

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