WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Legislation to bar federal funds from being spent on National Public Radio passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday, although its ultimate prospects of becoming policy looked doubtful.

HB 1076 passed after morning and afternoon debate sessions and follows recent controversies involving NPR's executives, and other Republican efforts to defund or limit federal spending on public broadcasting.

The House bill puts NPR specifically in its crosshairs, citing fiscal responsibility as a key motivation.

"It's called tightening the belt," Majority leader Eric Cantor said on the floor. "It's time to reflect the common sense of the American people."

Under the bill, affiliate stations could not use federal funds to pay for NPR-produced programs or to pay member dues.

Republicans said it would save up to $60 million annually. Democrats argued that the bill was a thinly veiled ideological attack that does not save money.

"This legislation is not about reforming NPR, it's about punishing NPR," California Democratic Representative Henry Waxman said.

The bill is not likely to move far past the House, as the Senate is in Democratic control and President Barack Obama, who has issued a statement in opposition of the bill, would likely veto it if it reached his desk.

(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton)