Today, the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted narrowly to give the green light for the reopening of horse slaughter plants in the United States. There were 27 members of Congress who voted against the bipartisan amendment offered by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and Charlie Dent, R-Pa., to bar horse slaughter operations in the United States, and 25 who supported it. All but one Democrat on the committee voted to oppose this dreadful idea, while 26 of 30 Republicans favored it.
The vote on the amendment was as unimaginable as the rhetoric from the horse slaughter crowd was hypocritical.
Unimaginable because American horses deserve a better fate than to be gathered up by a disreputable “kill buyer” who outbids a rescuer at an auction, loaded onto an overcrowded truck, and then stunned, hoisted up by a leg, and pulled apart piece by piece – which is exactly what the 27 lawmakers who voted against the Roybal-Allard/Dent amendment are trying to sanction. We don’t do this to dogs or cats when we don’t have homes for them, and it should be unthinkable to do this to the domesticated animal that helped settle the nation. I pity the people who don’t see the majesty of these American icons and who are numb to their suffering.
Hypocritical because the lawmakers who spoke out against the amendment to ban horse slaughter – again, these are the Representatives who want to allow horse slaughter – actually feigned an interest in protecting horses. A couple of them lamented the long-distance transport of American horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for human consumption, and said that we might as well slaughter horses here in the United States so they don’t have to be transported.
That logic would make a little sense until you realize that these same lawmakers are blocking a different bill backed by The HSUS that would forbid the transport of horses for slaughter for human consumption to other countries. Only one of the lawmakers who voted to reopen horse slaughter plants in the United States is a cosponsor of that broader anti-slaughter bill, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 113, which is led by four animal welfare champions — Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.
How can you lament the long-distance transport of horses for slaughter to Canada or Mexico and then fight the bill that addresses that very thing? You can do so only if you say one thing and do another.
The defeat of the amendment to bar U.S.-based horse slaughter plants from operating is an ugly start for the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. The newly anointed chairman represents a suburban district in New Jersey, and his constituents favor our position in droves. He defied their wishes on this vote, just as he defied their wishes earlier in the year in voting to overturn a Fish and Wildlife Service rule to stop the aerial tracking, landing, and shooting of grizzly bears, and to stop the shooting of wolves and other predators during their denning seasons on national wildlife refuges.
What kind of person wants to kill grizzly bears on wildlife refuges and slaughter American horses on U.S. soil?
Reps. Robert Aderholdt, R-Ala., Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Mark Amodei, R-Nev. also favored horse slaughter in the debate today. To their credit, Reps. Roybal-Allard, Dent, Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Barbara Lee, D-Calif, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., spoke in favor of the ban on U.S. horse slaughter.
“As a lifelong Republican, I’m deeply saddened and quite ashamed to see my fellow conservatives go to such great lengths to promote the slaughter of American equines,” said Marty Irby, who heads the HSUS equine campaign. “I hope the members who profess to be fiscal conservatives will reflect upon this vote that would have saved millions of taxpayer dollars annually – and begin to practice what they preach.”
As Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., noted in a public statement, this battle is not over. If House leaders bring the agriculture spending bill to the floor, our congressional allies may be able to offer the amendment there and win when all House lawmakers have a chance to vote on the issue. And if even that doesn’t happen, we expect to win a horse slaughter defund amendment in the Senate, which would give us a chance to prevail when the final bill is negotiated and sent to President Trump.
This is how lawmakers voted on the amendment to protect horses:
Peter Aguilar, D-Calif.-31, Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.-2, Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.-17, Katherine Clark, D-Mass.-5, Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.-3, Charlie Dent, R- Pa.-15, David Joyce, R-Ohio-14, Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio-9, Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.-6, Barbara Lee, D-Calif.-13, Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.-17, Betty McCollum, D-Minn.-4, Grace Meng, D-N.Y.-6, Chellie Pingree, D-Maine-1, Mark Pocan, D-Wis.-2, David Price, D-N.C.-4, Mike Quigley, D-Ill.-5, Tom Rooney, R-Fla.-17, Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.-40, Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.-2, Tim Ryan, D-Ohio-13, José Serrano, D-N.Y.-15, Peter Visclosky, D-Ind.-1, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.-23, and Kevin Yoder, R-Kan.-3
Robert Aderhold, R-Ala.-4, Mark Amodie, R-Nev.-2, Ken Calvert, R-Calif.-42, John Carter, R-Texas-31, Tom Cole, R-Okla.-4, Henry Cuellar, D-Texas-28, John Abney Culberson, R-Texas-7, Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.-25, Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.-3, Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nev.-1, Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.-11, Kay Granger, R-Texas-12, Tom Graves, R-Ga.-14, Andy Harris, R-Md.-1, Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.-3, Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va.-3, John Moolenaar, R-Mich.-4, Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.-4, Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.-4, Martha Roby, R-Ala.-2, Harold Rogers, R-Ky.-5, Michael Simpson, R-Idaho-2, Chris Stewart, R-Utah-2, Scott Taylor, R-Va.-2, David Valadao, R-Calif.-21, Steve Womack, R-Ark.-3, and David Young, R-Iowa-3