Washington, DC (JBANC) — Due to an unexpected schedule change, an amendment to the House appropriations bill (H.R. 2799) supporting restoration of funding to continue International Broadcasting in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and other East and Central European Countries, was introduced late on July 22 and ruled out of order. The missed opportunity was a setback to efforts by constituents to save Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasting from being eliminated to this region. Despite growing support among House members for the measure, the continuation of International Broadcasting to Central and East Europe was not discussed on the House floor and the bill does not include the necessary funding for those foreign language services.
Action now moves to the Senate with the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State to mark up the bill. With the approaching summer recess, set to begin August 4, it is expected that a subcommittee mark up will take place the first week of September. The bill moves then to the full Appropriations committee, followed by a vote on the Senate floor. A conference committee of both Senate and House members will then convene to discuss a final version of the legislation.
In this five-week timeframe, it is essential that calls be made to Senate Appropriations Committee members to ask that funding for these broadcasts be restored. Please urge Senate appropriators to help preserve VOA and RFE/RL being heard in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Your help is necessary to have funding for these broadcasts alive.
1. Language in both Senate and House versions of the State Department Authorization bill favors saving the services, asking for restoration of $8.9 million (S.925) and supporting a two-year moratorium before any of the Central and Eastern European language services, including Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian, can be eliminated (H.R. 1950). The House bill was recently adopted. The authorization language should be supported. Please mention that the language promoted by Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) in the Senate authorization bill and Congressmen Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) in the House appropriations bill favors the restoration of the language services.
2. To close these European services invites a loss of U.S. presence and prestige in the region. VOA and RFE/RL broadcasting offers objective news and analysis about America and the world at a low cost.
3. The broadcasts should remain until the Baltic countries are fully and formally members of NATO.
4. Certain U.S. government agencies acted prematurely in seeking to close all the Baltic broadcast services, not fully realizing the damage to U.S. prestige and public image in the Baltics that would result by the abrupt pull-out of the services.
5. It takes time for democracy and other concepts of freedom to flourish after decades of totalitarianism. The media in the Baltic region are still at times uncertain. We risk abandoning the airwaves to distortions and vagaries by biased broadcasters. These broadcasts are the most effective and direct way of communicating about America to the people of Europe.
House Appropriators should also be contacted, since the money still needs to be defended by House conference negotiators in the final bill. A vote to restore funding in the Senate Appropriations committee would improve chances for having these funds in the final bill, which comes out of the conference committee. A complete list of Appropriations committee members and contact information can be obtained by visiting http://congress.org or by calling the Capitol Hill Operator at: 202-224-3121.
– Senate Appropriations Commerce/Justice/State Subcommittee Members to Contact:
Subcommittee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ranking Member Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and the other members of the subcommittee: Pete Domenici (R-NM), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA). As well as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Robert Byrd (D-WV).
Other members of the Senate Appropriations Committee are: Thad Cochran (R-MS), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Larry Craig (R-ID), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).