Our animal protection agenda wins big in House Appropriations funding package

By on June 25, 2019 with 8 Comments

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

There’s a reason why the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund invest substantial time and effort in seeking to shape funding decisions within the U.S. Congress; it pays off big for animal protection. Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 227-194 to pass a large package of fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills to fund several federal departments, including Agriculture, Interior and Commerce. H.R. 3055 features a number of great provisions for animals. Some of the most important include:

Halting trophy imports—Prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from issuing permits to import elephant or lion trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia or Tanzania (an amendment offered by Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., approved by 239-192 vote).

Saving North Atlantic right whales—Provides $2.5 million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research and monitoring of these critically endangered whales (a floor amendment by Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., that increased funding by $1.5 million was approved by voice vote; a harmful amendment by Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine was defeated by 84-345 vote).

Enhancing wildlife trade detection—Encourages USFWS to allocate an additional $200,000 for its Wildlife Detector Dog Program, which uses dogs to sniff out illegal wildlife products at key U.S. ports of entry, curbing wildlife trafficking (an amendment by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., was approved by voice vote).

Restoring purged USDA data—Directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to resume online posting of all inspection reports and enforcement records under the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act; documents must be promptly posted in their entirety without redactions that obscure the identities of puppy mills, roadside zoos and other businesses cited for violations (Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., incorporated this and several other pro-animal items on this list in his base bill).

Providing shelter for people and pets fleeing domestic violence—Allocates $2 million for a new grant program authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, based on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, to help provide emergency and transitional shelter options for domestic violence survivors with companion animals; directs USDA and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development to work together quickly to establish and carry out this grant program (Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., led efforts to secure these provisions).

Stopping horse slaughter—Prohibits USDA spending on horse slaughter inspections, effectively preventing the reopening of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. for FY20.

Punishing horse soring—Provides $294,000 increase (raising the program’s funding to $1 million) for stronger USDA enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to prevent the cruel practice of soring Tennessee walking horses and related show breeds.

Curbing cruelty in swine slaughter—Suspends USDA’s swine slaughter rule that allows slaughterhouses to send pigs down the line as rapidly as possible, with serious negative implications for animal welfare, food safety and worker safety (an amendment by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and David Price, D-N.C., was approved in committee).

Shutting down Class B dealers—Renews the prohibition on USDA’s use of funds to license Class B dealers, notorious for trafficking in dogs and cats obtained through fraudulent means, including pet theft, for research and testing (Rep. Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., championed this measure).

Requiring AWA inspections documentation—Calls on USDA to require that inspectors document every observed violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), to reverse concealment tactics that the agency has promoted during the past few years.

Engaging the USDA Inspector General—Presses this important office to step up efforts against animal fighting and to audit USDA’s enforcement of the AWA, HPA and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA).

Supporting veterinary care and services—Boosts funding by $1 million (to $9 million total) for student loan repayment program for veterinarians who commit to practice in underserved areas.

A number of key provisions on which we reported earlier for wild horses and burros, wolves, marine mammals, other wildlife and alternatives to animal testing are also contained in today’s House-approved package. So are measures calling for greater oversight of animal welfare and transparency at Agricultural Research Service labs, strengthened HMSA enforcement for live animal handling at slaughterhouses and funds for USDA to help state and local governments address the needs of people with pets in their disaster planning.

By any standard, this has been a banner year so far in our work shepherding strong animal welfare initiatives through the federal budgeting process. We are so grateful to the legislators who led the charge on these provisions and to their colleagues who voted for the package. And we’re grateful to the many engaged advocates who have stood strong behind us in our efforts. Now we’ll urge the Senate to follow suit and get these provisions enacted!

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

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

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8 Comments

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  1. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Vielen Dank für Ihre Arbeit gegen das Unrecht , den Umgang mit den Lebewesen.
    und Ihren unermüdlichen Einsatz für die Erde auf der wir leben. Wir müssen die Stimmen erheben und Sie in jeder Hinsicht unterstützen!!!!!

  2. John Bachman says:

    I applaud HSUS for their efforts in defense of animals. However many of the items are just cosmetic and on the edges of the issues. One of the most important things which has to be pursued it to stop the financial support of the meat industry through grazing rights, price supports, and subsidies, etc. Get the meat lobby out of the government.

  3. Della Plane says:

    Keep up the amazing and impactful work!

  4. Dawn Mello says:

    Does Trump have to sign off on it?

  5. Lisa Adam says:

    These are fantastic gains, in so many important areas. Thank you, HSUS and HSLF, for all you do!

  6. Lorna Nicholson says:

    I would like to know why Ten. walking horses are still forced to exaggerate their gait by wearing large heavy shoes and chains?
    There are videos of horses obviously distressed and struggling to walk with the high movement.
    There are petitions on Change.org appealing for donations to fight this cruelty.
    Thank you
    Lorna Nicholson

  7. Cheryl Sundet says:

    This is wonderful news, covers so many things that have been a
    national disgrace plus a source of continual sadness to many. Thank
    you Humane Society & congress. One more step in the Senate &
    we will have what so many of us have dreamed about for years.
    Well done!!!

  8. Roe Morris says:

    Thank God and everyone responsoble for getting this bill passed. Thank you for being their voice. Animals are gifts from God. One by one until there are none. Abuse of animals must stop NOW. GOD BLESS

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