House Republicans signaled Thursday that they will continue their budget wars against national-service programs and National Public Radio as Congress hammers out a 2012 federal spending plan.
The House Appropriations Committee issued draft legislation that would provide just $280-million in the next fiscal year to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that operates AmeriCorps and other national-service programs. It said some of the money should be used to continue the organization’s volunteer programs for older people and the rest to pay for “the orderly elimination of other programs.”
The national-service agency—which also manages the Social Innovation Fund, a grants program for effective nonprofits—has a budget of $1.08-billion this year.
House Republicans tried to kill the agency completely in 2011 budget negotiations, but the Democratic-led Senate and President Obama fought to keep it alive. In the end, Congress trimmed its budget by more than $74-million.
A similar battle could take place this year. The Senate Appropriations Committee is much more sympathetic. It approved legislation this month that would raise the national-service corporation’s budget slightly in 2012, to $1.09-billion.
The House legislation, which now goes to a subcommittee for approval, would also eliminate money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting starting in 2014. (Money is allocated for the agency two years in advance.)
It would also bar the broadcasting agency from giving any money to National Public Radio and would order it to prepare a report on “how to wean NPR off of federal funds” by 2014.
The Senate committee voted to allocate $445-million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2014, the same amount Congress agreed last year to spend in 2013. The House made an unsuccessful attempt last year to end federal spending on the agency, which provides grants to public radio and television broadcasters, as part of a broader push to close the federal deficit.
Some Republicans accuse NPR of displaying a liberal bias. The broadcaster was embarrassed last spring when undercover videos were released showing its chief fund raiser making disparaging remarks about Republicans and the Tea Party.