WASHINGTON — There’s still hope for Honolulu’s East-West Center to get federal funds next year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee that Sen. Daniel Inouye chairs wants to reinstate $16.7 million so the center can continue operating.

The recommendation comes after attempts by House Republicans to scrap the program. A House Committee voted in July to eliminate all funding for the center, which was established by Congress in the 1960s.

Senate appropriators want to reinstate some funding but they are also urging the center to reduce its operations, including in its Washington, D.C., office. The committee’s recommended spending represents a $4.3 million cut — a 20 percent decrease — to the center’s current $21 million funding level.

“The Committee recognizes the role of the EWC in supporting U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region through its research, analysis and exchange programs,” the committee wrote in its funding recommendations for the center. “EWC programs also provide unique opportunities to bring together government, business, NGO, and academic leaders from the United States and Asian countries.”

House Republicans questioned the value of the center, and have criticized the funding it has enjoyed as “pork.” The budget still has several hurdles before it can become law.

Incidentally, Inouye met in Washington Thursday with East-West Center President Charles Morrison, according to a spokesman for the senator. Morrison previously expressed confidence that the Senate would restore funding for the center, and told Civil Beat in July that eliminating it would make the United States’ foreign policy “look shallow.”

A spokesman for Inouye said he was not present for the meeting and could not provide details about what was discussed.

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