U.S. House Panel Votes to Kill East-West Center

By Mark Niesse, Associated Press

Published August 5, 2011

HONOLULU—A U.S. House of Representatives committee voted July 21 to abolish Hawaii's 50-year-old East-West Center and strip it of $10.8 million in federal funding.


Despite the House Foreign Affairs Committee's action, East-West Center President Charles Morrison said he's confident the Honolulu-based institution will survive the long legislative process.


"I'm not deeply concerned that the East-West Center as an institution is going to disappear,'' Morrison told The Associated Press. "There are too many reasons why it's an important and valuable asset to the U.S.''


The East-West Center promotes cultural and technical interchanges between the United States and other nations in the Pacific, as well as providing scholarships for students from the Pacific region to study at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Opponents who believe it's a wasteful government program have tried to cut its funding for years, but this is the first time members of the Republican-controlled House have attempted to kill the center altogether by repealing the 1960 legislation that created it, Morrison said.


The center's powerful allies in the Democrat-run U.S. Senate, including Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, won't let that happen, Morrison said.


Representatives who want to put an end to the East-West Center said it shouldn't be draining valuable federal government resources.


"I am unaware of any major accomplishments that can be attributed to the East-West Center over its 50 years,'' said U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., during the House Foreign Affairs Committee's hearing July 21, as first reported by Civil Beat. "If indeed it is worthwhile and has served a proper function and made some things that are respected and acknowledged throughout the Pacific, I would imagine that there are some Pacific countries that would like to jump in and put their money down.''


The East-West Center received about $21 million in federal funding for the current fiscal year, along with another $10 million from private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations and governments.


The $10.8 million being eliminated from next fiscal year's budget can be restored and added as legislation moves through the House, Senate and various committees, Morrison said.


"The House Foreign Relations Committee's action is regrettable. However, it is premature to comment on legislation that has yet to be put to a vote by the entire House of Representatives or come before the Senate. This is part of the Democratic process,'' Inouye, D-Hawaii, said in a statement.


U.S. Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa said they will work to save the East-West Center.



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