Iowa Republican Jim Leach has officially joined the Democrat-led push to restore funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, according to a Democratic appropriations committee staffer.
Another Republican House member, Chris Shays of Connecticut, also supports restoring the funds and , according to a staffer, expects to support the amendment, depending on what the offsets will be (to give the money to CPB, it must be taken from somewhere else in the budget).
Republicans voted to cut the funds in appropriations committee hearings last week, but it looks as though some are beginning to get behind the effort to restore the funds.
Wisconsin Democrat David Obey, whose amendment to the appropriations bill restored CPB funding for 2008 last week, plans to introduce a second amendment to the bill either Thursday or Friday to restore the $100 million cut from CPB's 2006 appropriation.
The amendment is co-sponsored by Leach and Democrat Nita Lowey (N.Y.). A Leach spokesman said his support should come as no surprise. "He has been a long-time supporter of public broadcasting," said Greg Wierzynski. Connecticut Republican Rep. "I think you'll see other Republicans supporting it," said Wierzynski, who also said he thought the amendment would pass.
The amendment does not call for restoring funds to the Ready to Learn (RTL) kids programming grant, the digital transition funds, or the interconnections monies, all of which were eliminated by the same Republican committee majorities.
Why not include those in the amendment? "Money is just too tight," said the staffer. Restoring the 2008 funds was relatively easy, since it did not have to offset. But the RTL and other cuts are from 2006. "You can only add money to one program by taking it away from another in the same bill. This bill is health, job training, education, and such, and all the programs face steep cuts.There just isn't the fat to cut."
PBS President Pat Mitchell was on the Hill Wednesday searching for supporters in her effort to preserve the RTL, digital transition and interconnection funds.
In a dear colleague letter, Obey, Leach and Lowey said:
"We are writing to ask your support for the bipartisan Obey-Lowey-Leach Amendment, which we will be offering tomorrow on the Fiscal Year Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (LHHS) Appropriations bill.
As you know, the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee rescinded $100 million from previously appropriated money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for fiscal year 2006. The Subcommittee also failed to provide the fiscal year 2008 advance funding for public broadcasting that would normally be included in the LHHS bill. In the full Appropriations Committee, however, the Committee restored the $400 million in advance funding for CPB.
During floor consideration, we will be offering an amendment to restore the fiscal year 2006 funds for public broadcasting that the Subcommittee rescinded. This funding will be fully offset by shaving administrative accounts in the bill that can afford it so that the additional funding does not add to the deficit.
We hope you will consider the Obey-Lowey-Leach amendment.