CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
S. 3104 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) on March 11, 2010. The Senate passed the bill with an amendment by unanimous consent on June 25, 2010.
S. 3104 would permanently authorize Radio Free Asia (RFA). The bill also includes a Sense of the Senate that, "Congress should provide additional funding to RFA and the other entities overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors."
Under current law, the authorization for Radio Free Asia expires at the end of Fiscal Year 2010. The program is operating on a $37 million budget this fiscal year.
Radio Free Asia began broadcasting in September 1996. The mission of Radio Free Asia is "to provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press." Although it is formally a private, nonprofit corporation, it is funded by an annual federal grant from and administered by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Radio Free Asia broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Radio Free Asia currently broadcasts in nine languages including Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Tibetan, Uyghur, Burmese, Vietnamese, Lao, Khmer and Korean. The governments of the countries targeted for these broadcasts have denied and blocked attempts at medium wave and FM transmissions into their countries, forcing Radio Free Asia to rely on shortwave broadcasts and the Internet.
Some Members may be concerned with the bill's permanent authorization.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would cost $188 million over five years, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.