From Patricia Harrison:

Today, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2007 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill that provides funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

The legislation approved by the full Appropriations Committee this morning increases the Labor-HHS Subcommittee’s initial FY 2007 allocation for CPB from $380 million to $400 million. It does not contain an advance appropriation for FY 2009 or additional funding in FY 2007 for digital conversion or television interconnection (CPB would be permitted to use a portion of its FY 2007 regular appropriation for these purposes).  In addition, the bill eliminates funding for Ready To Learn (RTL). If enacted, the proposed FY 2007 funding levels would represent a 17.4% reduction from CPB’s FY 2006 levels.

 While we appreciate the committee’s efforts in restoring $20 million of the $104.5 million in cuts originally proposed by the subcomittee, and understand the difficult choices confronting the Appropriations Committee, CPB is committed to working with our partners in the public broadcasting community to make the case for the funding levels in our original request.

This request represents both a strong commitment to fiscal restraint and a firm  understanding of the value and service that public broadcasting offers our country and our local communities.  Anything less than full-funding will not only present public broadcasting with an unfunded federal mandate to convert to digital broadcasting, it will also undermine its ability to both offer essential educational services and provide a backbone for a national emergency alert system.

 The next step for the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriatoins Bill is consideration by the full House of Representatives, with action possible as early as next week.  The Senate is not expected to begin consideration of its version of the bill until July at the earliest.  Once both chambers have passed their respective bills, a conference committee will meet to craft a final, compromise version.