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Blumenauer Defends Big Bird

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) took to the House Floor Thursday to defend public broadcasting from the latest effort to zero out its funding by the House Appropriations Committee.

He pinned a lot of the blame on presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his support for cutting noncom funding.

"The House appropriations bill being marked up this morning would slash funding now, defund NPR Federal support, and end public broadcasting as we know it, within 2 years, "Blumenauer said. "At the same time, we have a Republican Presidential nominee who singled out public broadcasting as one of the five programs that he would eliminate," he said. "This is because Governor Romney and the Republicans listen to a tiny fraction of the American public that is even a minority in their own party."

The Senate, where Democrats are in the majority, has recommended retaining noncom funding at about current levels.

Noncommercial broadcasting has survived period Republican threats to its funding, but the current economic downturn and need for tough budget-cutting has raised its profile in budget-cutters' sites. "Since I've been in Congress, we've beaten back this destructive effort, but our challenge now has never been more urgent," said Blumenauer. He talked about having dinner with documentary icon Ken Burns, who told him his next five projects would never see the light of day if federal funding was axed.