Capitol Hill bill would eliminate East-West Center

Hawaii Independent Staff

HONOLULU—A bill introduced on Capitol Hill would see the elimination of Manoa’s East-West Center.

On Wednesday, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) called on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to remove language from the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2012 that would end funding of the East-West Center and repeal the legislation that created the Center in 1960.

“Eliminating the East-West Center would have an immediate and potentially devastating impact on our country’s foreign policy and national security interests in the Asia-Pacific region,” Hirono said. “Its work addressing trade, security, human rights, and energy security among other key issues is needed today more than ever.”

The East-West Center, a non-profit organization, promotes American interests and values in Asia and the Pacific through joint study, training and research. The Center has nearly 60,000 worldwide alumni made up of lawmakers, journalists, scholars and teachers. Past participants include the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

“Hawaii has always been proud of our role in bringing together Americans with their Asian and Pacific counterparts at the Center,” Hirono said. “Losing any of the 200 quality jobs the Center provides would be a painful loss. To lose the diplomacy the Center fosters would be an even greater tragedy.”

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa will be offering in the Foreign Affairs Committee an amendment to remove language eliminating the Center. If that amendment fails to pass, Hirono said in a statement that she will work to preserve the Center when the bill comes to the House floor.