USA Today: Federal shutdown dodged, but lobbying battles rage on

Written by admin on March 9th, 2011

With the stakes higher than ever,  lobbyists are swarming Capitol Hill to protect their interests.

USA Today

Congress and the White House have temporarily averted a government shutdown, but big lobbying battles loom over dozens of major cuts House Republicans approved last month.

Planned Parenthood, public radio stations and scores of other interests are scrambling to make their cases heard on Capitol Hill, hiring new lobbyists, mailing petitions, buying TV ads and, in one case, deploying PBS‘ Arthur the Aardvark cartoon character to Congress to rescue the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from budget cutters.

A focus of the lobbying free-for-all: a House-passed bill to fund the government through Sept. 30 that would cut $61 billion in federal spending.

“What was supposed to be a spending bill became a vehicle for every sort of pet effort to limit environmental protection,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who has identified 19 provisions he calls “anti-environment.”

Among environmentalists’ concerns: House decisions to halt the regulation of mercury emissions from cement kilns and to eliminate taxpayer money the Environmental Protection Agency would use to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants and factories. In all, the agency’s budget would be cut by a third.

“The EPA has overstepped their authority by imposing the regulation, and it’s hurting American businesses,” said Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who pushed to end the EPA’s oversight of greenhouse gases.

Other high-profile budget fights center on provisions to:

•Eliminate taxpayer money for public broadcasting. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public radio and television stations, has “outlived its usefulness,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who authored legislation to cut the funding. The corporation is set to receive $430 million this year.

“In this day and age, we have 150 cable channels and the Internet over our cellphones,” Lamborn said. “We no longer need a government source of media. This seems to be a natural place to start the discussion about getting our fiscal house in order.”

Patrick Butler, head of the Association of Public Television Stations, called the measure a “mortal threat” and said it would do little to reduce this year’s $1.6 trillion federal deficit.

“It’s true that there are lots of outlets, but the only people who are taking educational programming very seriously is public broadcasting,” he said.

 

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