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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1076, Prohibiting Federal Funding of National Public Radio

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, let me begin by extending congratulations to my very good friend, the gentleman from Spring Hill, a former sheriff, Mr. Nugent, for his maiden voyage in managing this rule. He has done a superb job in taking on this issue.

Let me say at the outset, having listened to the debate from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, every single thing that we have been doing on the floor of the House of Representatives is focused on job creation and economic growth. Virtually everything that we have done is focused on job creation and economic growth.

Now, some say, Why is it you are talking about National Public Radio now? What does that have to do with creating jobs? Well, the fact of the matter is, if we don't take on the $14 trillion national debt that we have in this country and the $1.6 trillion annual deficits that we have as far as the eye can see, we are not going to be implementing pro-growth economic policies.

Now, my friends on the other side of the aisle might argue that bringing about some kind of reduction in funding for National Public Radio will cost jobs. The disparity is that my friends on the other side of the aisle tend to focus on government-created jobs, and we want to focus on what it is the American people desperately want and need, which is long-term, good private sector jobs. And so everything that we do to try to reduce the size and scope and reach of government is focused on getting, as my friend from Vermont has just said, getting our fiscal house in order so that we can create jobs.

Yesterday up in the Rules Committee, my California colleague Ms. Eshoo referred to National Public Radio as a ``national treasure.'' Now, Mr. Speaker, I happen to be a fan of National Public Radio. I think that the term ``national treasure'' may just be a little bit of a stretch. I have been proud to support three local stations, two in Los Angeles, KPCC and KCRW; here in Washington, D.C., WAMU. I have been proud to participate in pledge drives for all these stations. I have done it for public television. I believe in voluntary contributions.

Now, yesterday Ms. Eshoo said that every American pays 77 cents for the benefit of National Public Radio. And while I am a proud listener of National Public Radio, I will say that I reckon that there are probably half the American people--that's just a wild guess on my part--maybe half the American people who have never even heard of, much less even listened to, National Public Radio. And the notion of taking 77 cents from them for National Public Radio is, to me, anathema to the whole concept of what it is that we are trying to do as a Nation.

Now, my friend from Rochester, the distinguished ranking member of the committee, the former chairman of the Rules Committee, referred to National Public Radio as--and this is not the exact word that was used--but sort of a paragon of virtue. Rather than bloviating on cable television, we have this great, great model of National Public Radio up there, something to which we can all bow and listen to as the one truth before us.

Well, with all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I've got to say that I've heard some inaccurate things on National Public Radio before, not just things with which I disagree, but there have been inaccuracies. And so, with all of the choices out there, I believe that National Public Radio should be one of them; but they are only one of the choices that people have.

And since National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting came into existence, we all know that we've experienced this explosion of information from all kinds of sources.

So that's why, Mr. Speaker, while this measure doesn't obliterate funding for National Public Radio, what it does is it puts us, as my friend from Spring Hill has said so well, on a glide path towards recognizing that since National Public Radio receives a very small amount of its funding that they utilize totally from the Federal Government, this puts them on a glide path towards something that I believe will dramatically enhance the quality of coverage and the credibility of National Public Radio, and that is to have voluntary support.

And I will say right here that when we are successful, when we are successful at weaning National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting away from compulsory taxpayer dollars used to fund them, I personally will increase my level of contributions, my level of contributions to those local stations and to other aspects.

We need to look at ways in which this shortfall that will exist is addressed, and I believe that we can do that.

And I have to say that, procedurally, it's very interesting to listen to people talk about the characterization of this rule that has come down before us. It's simply because less than 48 hours was provided for the announcement of simply the Rules Committee meeting, not the fact that we're here on the floor. And my distinguished friend from Rochester had, on nearly 70 occasions, when she was chairman of the Rules Committee, including the several scenic river studies that were put into place, and other legislation like that called emergency meetings of the House Rules Committee. And so I think that to characterize this procedure as it's been is not quite as appropriate as it should be.

And the fact is, Mr. Speaker, I wish this could have been handled a little differently. We all know that we passed H.R. 1 as it is, that, in fact, does defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But this measure, in and of itself, focuses on a problem that is out there. It needs to be addressed. And I urge my colleagues to support this rule and to support the underlying legislation.

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