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Friday, January 27, 2017

Did your Member of Congress make the grade?

There’s a new Congress in town, but it includes many veteran members who are back at work on the Hill, too. We want you to know how those members performed on important animal protection issues in the last session, so you can either encourage them to keep up the good work or let them know you want them to do better for animals this time around. 


Animals need every voice they can get this year. And yours matters so much. That’s why today we’re publishing the final version of the 2016 Humane Scorecard, which focuses on action in the past year while providing some analysis of the full two years of the 114th Congress.

Think of the Humane Scorecard as a handy tool to see where your federal legislators stand on some of our movement’s key policy issues.

It demonstrates the level of support animal protection ideas hold in various regions of the country and with the two major political parties. It also helps us evaluate where we’ve been effective and where we need to focus our energies in the months and years ahead.

Most directly, this scorecard holds lawmakers accountable on key votes including, on the positive side, to reduce or eliminate the testing of tens of thousands of chemicals on animals, and on the negative side, to strip Endangered Species Act protections for wolves, allow the most extreme methods of trophy hunting and trapping, and prevent agencies from issuing or updating regulations that protect animals. We also evaluate their support for adequate funding to enforce key federal animal welfare laws and their cosponsorship of priority bills to protect pets, horses, animals in laboratory experiments, and more. We provide extra credit for legislators who took the lead on one or more animal protection issues.

We recognize the limitations of trying to judge legislators based on a few votes, cosponsorships, joint letters, and leadership on animal issues. No instrument of this type is ever going to be perfect. Legislators sometimes must miss votes for unavoidable reasons such as illness or a death in the family.

Advocates should also consider such unrecorded matters as performance on committees, positions of congressional leadership, cosponsorship of other animal protection bills we weren’t able to include in the scorecard, and constituent service. But our movement must strive for some objective yardstick to evaluate performance on our issues.

We hope the Humane Scorecard will be useful to you all year. If you’re a member of HSLF (I hope you are!), please enjoy the complimentary printed copy you’ll receive in the mail as one of your membership benefits. And please help to spread the word about the important things we are doing.

Here are some of the highlights from 2016:

  • A bipartisan group of 200 legislators—51 Senators and 149 Representatives covering 39 states and the Northern Mariana Islands, which is more than half of the Senate and more than one-third of the House—received leader credit and/or scored a perfect 100 percent.
  • The average Senate score was 48, with Senate Democrats averaging 86, Senate Republicans averaging 17, and Senate Independents averaging 64.
  • The average House score was 49, with House Democrats averaging 89 and House Republicans averaging 20. 
  • Thirty-one Senators scored 100 or 100+. 
  • Twenty-seven Senators scored zero.
  • One hundred and four Representatives scored 100 or 100+.
  • Seven Representatives scored zero.
  • The New England region led the pack with an average House score of 82 and an average Senate score of 92, followed by both the Mid-Atlantic region with an average House score of 73 and Senate score of 50 and the West with a House score of 70 and a Senate score of 83.
  • The Rocky Mountains and the Southeast were at the bottom, with average House scores of 43 and 32, respectively, and Senate averages of 26 and 21, respectively.
  • California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington had an average Senate score of 100.
  • In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, both Senators scored a 0.
  • Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont had a House average of 100, and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York had House averages above 80.
  • No state had an average House score of zero, but Arkansas, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming had average House scores in the single digits.

Special thanks goes to the following 11 Senators and 37 Representatives who took the pro-animal position on every scored item and earned extra credit for leading on one or more animal issues:

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.)
  • Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.)
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.)
  • Sen. Chris Coons (Del.)
  • Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.)
  • Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.)
  • Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.)
  • Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.)
  • Sen Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.)
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)
  • Rep. Alma Adams (N.C.)
  • Rep. Don Beyer (Va.)
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)
  • Rep. Judy Chu (Calif.)
  • Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.)
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)
  • Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)
  • Rep. Susan Davis (Calif.)
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn,)
  • Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.)
  • Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.)
  • Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.)
  • Rep. Sam Farr (Calif.)
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii)
  • Rep. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.)
  • Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
  • Rep. Michael Honda (Calif.)
  • Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.)
  • Rep. Hank Johnson (Ga.)
  • Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.)
  • Rep. Brenda Lawrence (Mich.)
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.)
  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal (Calif.)
  • Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.)
  • Rep, Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.)
  • Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)
  • Rep. James McGovern (Mass.)
  • Rep. Grace Meng (N.Y.)
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.)
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.)
  • Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.)
  • Rep. Dina Titus (Nev.)
  • Rep. Niki Tsongas (Mass.)
  • Rep, Peter Welch (Vt.)

For all the details, please check out (and hold onto) the Humane Scorecard. Use it to talk to your lawmakers about their grades for last year. If they scored high, thank them for their support of animal protection. If they didn’t, let them know you’re watching and you hope they’ll try to do better in 2017.

And if your legislator wasn’t reelected, let the new folks in office know that you and other constituents care about treating animals humanely, that you want to see common-sense policies enacted to protect animals, and that you’ll be keeping them informed throughout the year so they can do well on the next Humane Scorecard right out of the gate. 

We need your help, and theirs, to advance a mainstream agenda for animal protection in the 115th Congress, taking on domestic violence against pets, doping of race horses and horse soring, animal testing for cosmetics, shark finning, the dangerous exotic pet trade and dog meat trade, and other cruelties.

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