S. 493 is a bill to reauthorize two fairly small programs in the U.S. Small Business Administration. Three Republican Senators whose politics are towards the far edge of their party’s spectrum of views — Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, and Tom Coburn — are planning to introduce amendments to this bill that would stop funding for public broadcasting.
The exact language of these amendments is not publicly available as I write this post, but one Congressional source indicates that Senator DeMint’s amendment would go even further than the bill already passed by the House by requiring the return of federal funds that had already been appropriated by past Congresses (but not yet made available to public stations).
When the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was first set up in the 1960′s, one of the ways in which the founders and political leaders of the day sought to reduce political influence on public TV and radio programming was to “forward fund” some of public broadcasting’s activities. That is, a year or two would go by between the time Congress acted and the time the funds could be available to stations. This helped with planning (from the local station’s perspective) and — people thought — would make it less likely that Congress would retaliate against specific programming that might be politically problematic for whoever was in power at the time.
While previous Congressional action this year was aimed at stopping future appropriations to public broadcasting, the DeMint amendment, as described by these sources, would go even further by taking previously-appropriated money back.
Senator DeMint’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Public Broadcasting Should Go Private,” is at the moment front and center on his Senate web page, so he leaves very little doubt as to his feelings about what we do at stations like KUSP.
You can, of course, let your Senators know how you feel; 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting has tools to help you communicate with them…