I sent the following message, last week, to my congressional representative, Nan Hayworth (R-NY 19):
The recent departure of executives from National Public Radio, and the events that triggered them, have fueled discussion in Congress about eliminating its federal funding. That would be a disastrous decision. Public radio and television provide and important service to the American public, with news, arts, and nature programming that is not connected to commercial interests. Their news agencies, in particular, benefit from their ability to remain impartial. Federal funding is entirely appropriate and necessary for these organizations, and Congress must not eliminate nor significantly reduce that funding. Ms Hayworth, please tell me your viewpoint on this matter, so that I may understand where you stand. And I urge you to stand on the side of the American public’s need for the high-quality news and arts programming that NPR and PBS provide.
I got no response. Or perhaps I did: today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to eliminate federal funding for NPR:
The House voted on Thursday to cut off funding for National Public Radio, with Democrats and Republicans fiercely divided over both the content of the bill and the manner in which it was brought to the floor.
Under the measure, sponsored by Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, stations could not buy programming from NPR or any other source using the $22 million the stations receive from the Treasury for that purpose. Local NPR stations would be able to use federal funds for operating expenses, but not content.
The time has come for us to claw back this money,said Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee.
According to the voting, representative Hayworth voted against it. I’m not surprised, as she’s a newly seated Republican. But it’s very clear that she is not representing her district, which is very much in support of National Public Radio.
It matters little, really, because the measure will almost certainly not pass in the Senate, and so it will die. But what these idiot Republicans are doing is unfortunate, frightening, dangerous. And the partisanship that has settled in our legislatures since 2000 is the most dangerous part of all.