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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Recap Before Recess

Congress is expected to recess this weekend, and lawmakers will be back in their districts for the next two weeks. It’s a good time to take stock of where animal protection issues stand in the 111th Congress and which bills are primed for action over the remaining few months.

Horse
We hope Congress will soon make progress on the
Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act to protect horses from the
cruelty of slaughter.

Eleven wildlife protection measures have passed the House—including bills to bar the trade in primates as pets; upgrade penalties for the killing of federally protected migratory birds; crack down on shark finning; provide assistance for marine mammal rescue and disentanglement; create a stamp to benefit the conservation of elephants, great apes, rhinos, tigers and other endangered species; protect wild horses and burros from commercial sale and slaughter; and assist in the conservation of cranes, marine turtles, sea otters, great cats and rare canids. Many of these bills have also passed their respective Senate committees, and are awaiting final action on the Senate floor. These are all common-sense policies with bipartisan support, and the Senate should pass them without delay.

Last week, 131 members of the House joined in requesting adequate funding in Fiscal Year 2011 for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, Horse Protection Act, and animal fighting law, as well as implementation of programs to ease the shortage of veterinarians and account for the needs of animals in disaster planning. The Senate deadline for appropriations requests is tomorrow, and there is still time to ask your senators to join the 33 others who have already signed onto the animal welfare funding letter being circulated by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and David Vitter (R-La.). We need to sustain the progress we have made in recent years to put boots on the ground and provide adequate enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect animals from cruelty and abuse.

Among pending legislation, two major priorities for animal advocates are still awaiting committee action, but have strong bipartisan support and we hope will soon make progress. The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Dan Burton (R-Ind.), would stop the exports of tens of thousands of American horses to Canada and Mexico where they are slaughtered for human consumption overseas. It has 29 cosponsors in the Senate and 181 in the House, and is pending in the Judiciary committees. The Truth in Fur Labeling Act by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), would require accurate labeling of fur-trimmed garments and provide consumers with important product information on the species of animal used. It has 33 cosponsors in the Senate and 163 in the House, and awaits action in the Commerce committees.

We urge Senate and House leadership to move quickly on these measures, which have been pending for some time and building support. And we hope you'll use the two-week recess to visit or contact your federal legislators in their district offices, and urge their support for these reforms. Tell them that you and millions of other Americans want public policies that advance the humane treatment of animals, and want to see results in the 111th Congress on these issues.

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