Key U.S. Senate Committee Passes Series of Key Provisions for Horses, Orcas, and Farm Animals

By on July 16, 2015 with 19 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

We had a powerful showing today in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee – with two key HSUS allies, Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., securing enough votes to pass their amendments dealing with horse slaughter for human consumption and the keeping of orcas in captivity.

Senator Tom Udall, who is also carrying free-standing bills to end doping of horses in racing and legislation to reduce and replace the use of animals in painful and often lethal testing programs for toxic chemicals, came through again for our cause. He offered an amendment to defund any USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants, as a way of keeping such slaughter plants from operating. There was a kill plant gearing up to open in the southern part of his state, and he’s been determined to prevent that from happening in his state or any other. The committee members recognized that Senator Udall had a posse of other supporters on the committee, with five other lawmakers joining him as cosponsors — Senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, Dianne Feinstein, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chris Coons, D-DE .  The committee accepted his amendment in a voice vote, with the “ayes” drowning out the “nays.”

The horse slaughter industry is a predatory one, getting a hold of healthy horses – whether racing animals, working animals, or others – and re-directing them into the slaughter pipeline. Long-distance transport, rough handling, and inhumane killing are standards fare for the poor horses caught up in this grisly trade. No Americans eat horses, and it’s purely for export to some European and Asian countries. In the House, a similar amendment, led by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., came up short in a tie vote, by a count of 24 to 24. We’re gearing up to sustain the Senate position in the final legislation that goes to President Obama, who is also an opponent of horse slaughter, to assure that these plants never again reopen in the United States.

Also this morning, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who like Senator Udall is an incredible leader on animal welfare issues, succeeded in passing an amendment directing the USDA to issue its long-delayed proposed rule to establish more humane standards of care for captive marine mammals. Like so many millions of other Americans, Senator Feinstein was deeply troubled by SeaWorld’s mistreatment of orcas, which highlighted the need for standards in the care of large marine mammals in captivity. We know that SeaWorld’s orcas languish in deficient environments, and there are other facilities that are even worse. This proposed rule has been hung up for almost two decades, and Senator Feinstein had enough with the inexplicable delays and the denial of proper care for marine mammals. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., also a huge advocate of our cause, joined her in cosponsoring the amendment.

There were questions from some Republicans about the amendment, but in the end, the committee favored it by a vote of 18 to 12, with all Democrats backing Senator Feinstein’s measure and Republican Senators Mark Kirk, Bill Cassidy, R-La., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. giving us the votes we needed to win.

On the House side, Representatives Jared Huffman and Adam Schiff, both Democrats from Calif., have also been pressing for USDA and the Office of Management Budget to push out the rule and get standards in place.  So this issue, too, has a growing number of advocates who want to see action.

The appropriations bill is also accompanied by a report that provides further direction to USDA on how to apply funds to specific programs. We were delighted to see that Senate Chairman Moran included language in that report directing the agency to make significant animal welfare reforms at Agricultural Research Service facilities like the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska, where a January New York Times expose found horrific ongoing abuse, neglect and mistreatment of thousands of farm animals. The language, championed by Sens. Merkley, Udall, Feinstein, and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, directs the agency to apply the standards of the Animal Welfare Act at all its research labs, and also directs another division of USDA to inspect ARS facilities.  Former Senators Bob Dole, R-Ks., and Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who volunteer as special advisors to The HSUS, were very active in advocating for reform on this issue and were instrumental in the outcome.

In all, it was a big day in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and today’s important gains are thanks to the great leadership of Senators fighting on many fronts for animal welfare. There are more battles ahead, but these are exciting outcomes for us.

P.S. The Committee bill also sustains funding – despite budget cuts in other areas – for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act dealing with the cruel “soring” of Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds. There were 36 Senators, led by Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La., who wrote to the committee and asked for these strong levels of funding.

Categories
Animal Research and Testing, Equine, Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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19 Comments

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  1. Regina Marsh says:

    🙁

  2. David Bernazani says:

    I, along with many others, will continue to wait for these important bills to be passed, especially the ones that will help stop horse soring and horse slaughter, and orca captivity. Too bad the animals who are enduring the horrific industries must wait also.
    When exploitation and abuse like these (and others) are outlawed, we can only then truly say we live in a humane nation.

  3. Susan Lindley says:

    As a member of Friends of Sound Horses and a lifelong Southern Republican, I am thrilled to see our Senators joining together to stop horse slaughter. While I do eat non-equine meat, slaughter animals’ end days should not be terrifying or cruel, and death should be quick.
    I hope that this news today paves the way to SB 1121 (the Prevent All Soring Tactics bill) becoming the Law of the Land in 2015, and the abuses of the “BigLick” Tenn Walking Horses will finally come to an end.

  4. Donna Slocum says:

    A victory for our horse’s. Soring is a intended act of pain for the rest of a horse’s innocent life .
    NO WE NEED TO GET THE SAFE ACTED PASSED,

  5. Vickie Slade says:

    Unfortunately, this isn’t stopping the horrible treatment and shipping of thousands of horses from within our borders to outside our borders (Canada and Mexico). There is a kill lot East of Ft Collins in Eaton, Colorado where hundreds pass through monthly. Some are Mares with their new foals, yearlings and beautiful animals which are bought at auctions and then shipped to slaughter for horse meat.

  6. Heather says:

    What will stop the transportation of theses horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter? They will still be slaughtered but will have days of being tortured while traveling hundreds of miles waiting to be killed.

  7. Cathy Breaux says:

    This is one of the special days I will remember. My heart is jumping for joy to finally see decades of cruelty & torture in the forefront with so much support from legislators. HSUS, along with many groups supporting these changes, will go down in history as huge successes. It is beyond comprehension what took so long while blatant cruelty continued. Greed is the only word that comes to mind. I eagerly await the final outcomes and pray they all become reality – a celebration for the millions of people believing it would never change, the U.S. Legislators instrumental in moving it forward and the groups who tirelessly never gave up. My heartfelt gratitude to you.
    Cathy B.

  8. Sherrye Chandler says:

    This is wonderful news! Now if the practice of shipping the horses overseas can be stopped, it will get even better! Then we need to release the 50,000 plus mustangs from the horrific conditions in palomino Valley , Fallon and the rest the pens. Palomino Valley and Fallon seem to be deliberately neglecting these poor animals, and they need help immediately. the work is just beginning.

    • K Hall says:

      For those of you who may not know, BLM has been sending OUR wild horses to slaughter. That needs to stop–immediately. BLM was entrusted to protect the wild ones, not kill them in the pens (which has also happened) or send them to Canada and Mexico.

  9. Jeanette Owen says:

    I’m getting sick of this – why don’t they just pass these bills? Does decency have to run thru the ringer? What’s so hard about stepping up & being decent?

  10. Lisa Taylor says:

    The horse slaughter industry is a predatory one, getting a hold of healthy horses – whether racing animals, working animals, or others – and re-directing them into the slaughter pipeline. Long-distance transport, rough handling, and inhumane killing are standards fare for the poor horses caught up in this grisly trade. No Americans eat horses, and it’s purely for export to some European and Asian countries. In the House, a similar amendment, led by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., came up short in a tie vote, by a count of 24 to 24. We’re gearing up to sustain the Senate position in the final legislation that goes to President Obama, who is also an opponent of horse slaughter, to assure that these plants never again reopen in the United States.

    The Committee bill also sustains funding – despite budget cuts in other areas – for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act dealing with the cruel “soring” of Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds. There were 36 Senators, led by Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La., who wrote to the committee and asked for these strong levels of funding.

  11. Linda Horn says:

    Why the sad face, Regina?

  12. Michelle says:

    This so disappoints me that so many people that don’t own a horse can make these uninformed decisions. No I would not eat one and love all 5 of mine! I do believe there needs to be a place to go for the unwanted horses as the problem is there are people still breeding and starving horses, there are also the rank ones that are unsafe for anyone to deal with. Maybe some of you people should go out and ask the horse community around the country or come interview the people in small communities starving and breeding these animals and go after them most are repeat offenders the counties do nothing about but slap hands. Start there instead of shutting it all down and pass the funding to have humane slaughter plants in this country instead of shipping them across boarders and those countries capitalizing on it. Grrrrrrrr

  13. Rebekah Wojnar says:

    As much of a painful thought as it is, horse slaughter is a necessary evil. Would you rather have these horses crammed into double-decker trailers and shipped hundreds, even thousands of miles to arrive maimed and broken and possibly already dead in a foreign plant? Where there is no regulation to the humanity of their death? I would rather see US slaughterhouses opened and regulated. No over-packed trailers, and strict regulations on sanitation and handling of the animals and process. You people are creating the very cruelty we all so detest.

  14. Denise A says:

    thank you Wayne and HSUS…we must endure the fight and the battles until the day the war on animals ends.

  15. Kelley Johnson says:

    No, slaughter is NOT a necessary evil. It is just a evil. I own horses, have my entire life. We compete with our horses and use them on the ranch. I used to buy into the “necessary evil” mantra until I started really looking into things and seeing horses listed in the kill pens. The cruelty these horses endure just is mind boggling. Pregnant mares, mares foaling while in the kill pen, mares with very young foals at their side, yearlings, 2 yr olds, and very nice using horses. Slaughter does not discriminate and it is a dumping grounds for stolen horses. There is nothing humane about horse slaughter. While this is good news, it is a moot point if the bill does not address the shipping of our horses across the border. We have got to stop the shipping or it will just be business as usual.

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