WASHINGTON — Big Bird has a pal in Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), who is probably the best friend to have when it comes to getting federal coin for pubcasting.
In accepting an award Monday from PBS, Inouye strongly indicated he would work to restore the $110 million the Bush administration wants to cut from pubcasting.
“While we may fiddle around a little,” Inouye said, referring to his colleagues in Congress, “when we get together, you will get our support.
“As chairman of the committee that has jurisdiction, I pledge my support,” he added while receiving a standing ovation during the lunchtime event.
Inouye heads the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees issues involving the Corp. for Public Broadcasting, a source of funds for pubcasting. In its proposed budget for fiscal 2008, the administration wants to reduce federal money to CPB from the $460 million appropriation last year to $350 million.
For several years now, the proposed cutting of CPB’s budget has become almost a parlor game in which the Bush White House takes away and Congress later gives back most, if not all. Democrats tend to be strong backers of pubcasting, but so are some Republicans, like Alaska’s influential Sen. Ted Stevens — the Commerce Committee’s ranking minority member whom Inouye refers to as his “co-chairman.”
Inouye received the 2007 Champion of Public Broadcasting Award, which “is reserved for extraordinary leaders who make a vitally important long-term impact on public broadcasting,” said PBS topper Paula Kerger. “Sen. Inouye, a champion of public broadcasting from its inception, is one of our strongest allies on Capitol Hill and a key part of PBS Hawaii’s ongoing success for the past 40 years.”