This vote was on an amendment by John McCain, R-Ariz., that would have deleted $20 million in grants to plan and build public television broadcasting facilities to broadcast public TV programming. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds the departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as science programs such as NASA.
McCain said his amendment would eliminate a program that President Obama himself has asked to be terminated.
“This will be the sixth amendment I have offered to support the President’s request for reduction or termination of unneeded or unwanted programs. I am confident this will be the sixth time that the appropriators on both sides of the aisle will vote down the President’s request—not my request, not my assumption, but that of the President of the United States and the Office of Management and Budget,” McCain said. He added that Obama has requested the program be terminated because the bill increases funding for the same sort of grants in another area of the budget.
Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., agreed that Obama has proposed to eliminate the program, but that Congress is “a separate and coequal branch of government” that can make its own spending decisions.
“In this case, the [Appropriations Committee] respectfully disagrees with the President’s budget. We know our President inherited a terrible mess. We know the previous administration ran up debts and deficits and now, as we try to clean it out, our President is looking for modest cuts to the budget. But here, with public telecommunications facilities, this is exactly what we need during these troubled economic times to provide access to quality TV to ordinary people who might not be able to afford cable TV, satellite TV,” Mikulski said.
By a vote of 33-64, the amendment was rejected. Of Republicans present, 32 voted for the amendment and seven voted against it. All but one Democrat voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward with funding intact for the planning and construction of public telecommunications facilities.