Call it the ultimate pledge drive for public broadcasting. Near the midnight hour on Capitol Hill, Democrats tried to preserve at least $430 million that the federal government plans to spend this year to subsidize radio and television stations across the country, including Boston’s WBUR and WGBH.

They lost.

Now House Republicans believe they are on the verge of voting to end federal subsidies for public broadcasting, setting the stage for a Big Bird-size battle in the Senate and potentially thrusting the issue into the hands of President Obama, an avowed fan of the public networks.

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