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Arthur the Aardvark, House Democrats Join to Protest Public Broadcasting Cuts

Republicans are pushing to eliminate all federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Democrats brought costumed ammunition to the battle to save public broadcast funding from the chopping block. 

At a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, a half-dozen congressmen and women joined with a performer dressed as Arthur the Aardvark to protest House Republicans' efforts to eliminate $430 million in federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

The House members are proposing an amendment that would restore funding in the federal budget. They have a powerful supporter in their efforts. President Barack Obama's budget calls for increasing general programming grants for CPB to $445 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014. 

"Public broadcasting is an electronic oasis in what has been called the vast wasteland of commercial television,” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement. "We cannot allow Republicans to lavish hundreds of millions of dollars a year in tax breaks on Big Oil while leaving Arthur and his pals in the lurch."

Funding from the CPB accounts on average for 15 percent of the bottom line for the more than 1,100 public radio and television stations around the country.

Also rounding out the list of accessories at Wednesday's event were a picture of Bert and Ernie being handed a letter that reads "GOPink Slip: You are fired," and a lectern decorated with a stuffed Big Bird, according to Fox News. 

NPR and PBS have traditionally been a target for those on the right, who view them as promoting a liberal agenda.

In fact, Wednesday's event was reminiscent of the public broadcasting community's response to previous Republican efforts to cut funding. After Republican retook the House and Senate in 1995, public broadcasting supporters trotted out Big Bird to protest budget cuts. 

In addition to cutting CPB funding, this go-round Republicans are also pushing to slash some $6 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.