July 14, 2017

House Committee Okays Horse Slaughter in the U.S.

On Wednesday, July 12, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee failed to protect our nation’s horses.  

By just two votes, the Committee failed to pass an agriculture spending bill amendment offered by Reps. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Charles Dent (R-PA) that would have maintained the status quo by barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities. Congress renewed this ban just two months ago when it finalized the FY17 spending bill, prohibiting the cruel and unnecessary horse slaughter industry from operating anywhere in the country—but if it chooses not to extend the ban beyond its September expiration date, Congress opens the door for horse slaughter to return the United States.

In the face of cuts to so many programs, it’s shocking that the House Appropriations Committee would allow such an irresponsible and wasteful use of taxpayer dollars. While Wednesday’s vote is a setback, it’s not the end: The ASPCA is working with leaders in the House to add the ban on horse slaughter funding to the bill on the House Floor, and the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider a similar amendment when it meets next week.

The Agriculture Appropriations bill isn’t a total loss for animal welfare. Heeding the call of the ASPCA, many in Congress and the overwhelming majority of Americans, the Committee included strong language imploring USDA to restore public/online access to critical data related to enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection Act (HPA). 

The bill also continues to ensure proper oversight of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) and other USDA facilities that engage in farm animal research, as well as maintains current funding levels for enforcement of the AWA and HPA. The bill maintains the prohibition on licensing Class B animal dealers, who sell “random source” dogs and cats—often stolen or lost household pets—for use in research. Finally, the bill encourages USDA to evaluate alternatives to dangerous M-44 cyanide devices, which the agency’s Wildlife Services program uses to kill wildlife (for the benefit of farmers and ranchers). 

The Agriculture Appropriations bill may move to the full House for consideration in coming weeks. You can help make sure it includes protections for our nation’s horses by contacting your members of Congress—please don’t delay, take action today.