Federal organization which includes NPR and PBS urges Congress to fight Trump's proposal to eliminate funding



The Corporation for Public Broadcasting urged Congress and President Donald Trump on Thursday to reconsider the proposal to eliminate all federal funding for the CPB, which supports NPR and PBS.

In a statement, CPB president Patricia Harrison said that there is "no viable substitute for federal funding" that could help the CPB provide free public media programming, which was slashed from the budget Trump released Thursday morning.

SEE MORE: Trump releases his first proposed budget: grows military, slashes domestic programs

"The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media's role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions – all for Americans in both rural and urban communities," Harrison wrote.

She added: "We will work with the new Administration and Congress in raising awareness that elimination of federal funding to CPB begins the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service."

In her statement on Thursday, Harrison argued that the CPB was cheap, pointing out that it costs taxpayers $1.35 per person a year, and is "especially critical for those living in small towns and in rural and underserved areas" who rely on its networks for news and education programming, as well as emergency alerts it releases.

The CPB accounts for far less than 1% of the federal government's annual budget: It was allocated $445 million in 2016. The organization divvies up the money among hundreds of local public television and radio stations across the US, which license national programs like NPR's "All Things Considered."

For its part, PBS implied that it had a universal appeal to many Americans that can be rare in the age of media bifurcation.

"PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country," the network said in a statement on Thursday. "We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives in return for federal funding for public broadcasting."

Trump's proposed elimination of funds for the CPB, as well as other groups like the National Endowment for the Arts, represents one of the biggest draw-downs of federal government spending in several decades.

While the budget proposes large spending cuts to many government agencies — the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department budgets would be cut 31% and 28%, respectively — defense and military spending would substantially increase.

The president proposed a $54 billion increase to the Department of Defense's 2018 budget — a 9% bump — as well as similar increases to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security.

In an interview on MSNBC on Thursday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended the cuts, denying that they would "hurt Americans lives," and pointing out that Trump was honoring the promises he made during the 2016 campaign to reform the federal government.

"We went back and pulled lines out of speeches, out of interviews, talked to the president. And we turned his words, his policies, into numbers," Mulvaney said. "So folks who voted for the president are getting exactly what they voted for. Those are the numbers he campaigned on."

He added: "One of the questions we asked was 'Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?' The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense, which we will. But we can't ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

The cuts have been expected for some time. Already this year, some local NPR affiliates went as far as to advertise the potential federal funding cuts in their annual pledge drives.

Though the funding will not likely eliminate PBS and NPR, which get only a small percentage of their funds from the federal government, it will almost certainly impact local public radio and television stations.

As the Washington Post pointed out in 2012, many public stations in rural areas rely on federal government allocations for up to 50% of their budgets.

Trump is far from the first Republican to propose cuts to the CPB.

During a presidential debate in 2012, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney famously said that he would eliminate PBS' funding if he was elected president.

"I'm sorry, Jim. I'm going to the stop the subsidy to PBS," Romney told the moderator, PBS' Jim Lehrer. "I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."

18 PHOTOS
'Sesame Street' through the years
See Gallery
'Sesame Street' through the years

New York, NY - April 5, 2004

Venus Williams and Elmo during Tennis Champion Venus Williams Plays Imaginary Tennis with Elmo for Sesame Street's 35th Season, airing at Sesame Street- Kaufman Studios in New York City.

(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage for Sesame Workshop)

New York, NY - December 6, 2001

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and his wife Nane pose for pictures with some Sesame Street characters after the taping of the show in New York. During the taping Mr. Annan breaks up an argument among the characters who are trying to determine who gets to sing the alphabet.

(DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada - January 19, 1997

Big favorites with the kiddies at the Ice Follies show in Maple Leaf Gardens were the Bert and Ernie characters from TV's Sesame Street; according to Star staff writer Frank Rasky. Big Bird was also on hand. 

(Photo by Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Frankfurt - October 24, 1997

A trader on the Frankfurt bourse trading floor on October 24, 1997 holds a massive stuffed doll of "Sesame Street" character Ernie. The Ernie doll was brought to the trading floor ahead of the flotation next week of U.S. company EMTV, which produces the Sesame Street program.

(Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

May 13, 1990

Sesame Street characters with Rip Verniero, age 9. 

(Photo By The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Shanghai, China - June 30, 1998 

Big Bird joins Hillary Rodham Clinton at the grand opening of the Shanghai Children's Medical Center. The center is a joint venture with Project Hope of the U.S., the Shanghai city government and Shanghai Second Medical University. More than 250,000 children a year will be served by the center. Big Bird is a character on the television program Sesame Street.

(Simon Kwong/Reuters)

Circa 1969, Cast members of the television show, 'Sesame Street,' posing on the set with some of the puppet characters. Left to right: Will Lee (1908 - 1982), Matt Robinson (1937 - 2002), Bob McGrath and Loretta Long with (left to right) Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Ernie, Bert and Oscar the Grouch.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

June 4, 2003

Katie Couric with Sesame Street's Oscar the Grouch and Elmo at the Sesame Street Gala to Celebrate 35 years of making a difference in the lives of children

(Theo Wargo via Getty Images/WireImage for Sesame Workshop)

NEW YORK, NY November 9, 2009

Sesame Street character Big Bird walks through Dante Park at the 'Sesame Street' 40th Anniversary temporary street renaming in Dante Park.

(Photo by Mike Coppola/FilmMagic)

San Diego, CA - January 9, 2016

Sesame Street characters Cookie Monster and Grover pose backstage at Sesame Street and HBO Host Free Museum Day with a special performance by Elmo and Friends at The New Children's Museum in San Diego, California.

(Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)

New York, NY - November 9, 2009

Sesame Street characters pose under a '123 Sesame Street' sign at the 'Sesame Street' 40th Anniversary temporary street renaming in Dante Park.

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

New York, NY - February 4, 2010

Sesame Street Live characters Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Cookie Monster celebrate the renaming of the corner of 31st Street and Eighth Avenue to 'Sesame Street' outside Madison Square Garden in New York.

(STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

New York, NY - September 19, 2007

Sesame Street characters Prairie Dawn and Zoe attend a portrait session for the You Vote Campaign at 1100 6th Avenue in New York City.

(Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage) 

New York, NY - April 11, 2015

Cookie Monster and Taraji P. Henson as Cookie during the 'Sesame Street Promo' skit on Saturday Night Live.

(Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

San Diego, CA - January 9, 2016

Sesame Street characters Rosita and Elmo pose backstage at Sesame Street and HBO Host Free Museum Day with a special performance by Elmo and Friends at The New Children's Museum in San Diego.

(Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)

New York, NY - February 4, 2010

Sesame Street characters attend the temporary street renaming to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sesame Street Live on 31st Street & 8th Avenue n New York City.

(Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage) 

New York, NY - April 2, 2012

Cookie Monster visits with Daphne Oz, Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall on 'The Chew' on ABC.

(Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images) 

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