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House Subcommittee Recommends Full CPB Funding

President had recommending phasing out noncom money; Congress doesn't agree

The House Labor Subcommittee has recommended that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting receive level funding — $445 million — for fiscal year 2020. CPB is forward funded in an effort to de-politicize the appropriations process.

President Donald Trump had recommended phasing out funding for CPB, but both Democrats and Republicans have signaled that isn’t happening.

But retaining the funding was not a big surprise, even with the Republicans in charge.

Back in March when CPB President Patricia Harrison pitched the Congress on full funding, subcommittee chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) didn’t sound like someone who wanted to axe the funding for CPB. He did point out that when Harrison was co-chairman of the Republican National Committee he was chief of staff.

In closing the hearing, Cole said: “If you look over a 50-year [CPB] history it is a pretty impressive record of enriching the content of public dialog, opening doors to communities that don’t often have these kind of opportunities and living within what is by any measure at the federal level a comparatively modest budget, which you manage to leverage and multiply many times over.”

“We know how challenging the fiscal situation is for appropriators and the Congress in general, and we are grateful for this important vote of confidence in our work in education, public safety and civic leadership in hundreds of American communities,” said America’s Public Television Stations President Patrick Butler after the subcommittee recommended full funding. “We’re especially honored that Chairman Rep. Tom Cole identified the Corporation for Public Broadcasting among the ‘popular programs’ for which funding is preserved.”

The bill does not include funding for noncommercial TV interconnection, which did trouble Butler. CPB had asked for $55 million for 2018 for interconnection systems and $30 million for the Ready to Learn program at the Department of Education in addition to the $445 million.

“While we very much appreciate this endorsement of CPB funding, we are concerned that the bill as currently drafted does not provide funding for the critical interconnection system, which is the backbone of the public broadcasting system, providing local stations with national programming, connecting stations with each other, and creating efficiencies for our system,” said Butler.

“We remain hopeful that as the appropriations process runs its course, the needed $55 million for interconnection in FY 2018 will be provided.”

There was also no word for funding for Ready to Learn, the early-learning program that took heavy flak from Republicans over a decade ago over its content.

“We await further word on funding for Ready to Learn, in hopes that this vital program, which creates and distributes educational media content to millions of preschool children across America, and has been proven to help close the achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers, will also be fully funded,” Butler said.

Congress approved full funding for CPB for 2017 in the omnibus appropriations bill after the President tried to zero out funding for 2017. But the President’s budget released in May tried again to defund it for 2018 and beyond.

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