Federal Spending Package Will Help Protect Animals!

December 18, 2015

Great news: The U.S. House and Senate both passed the FY2016 Appropriations bill today. The language blocking funding for domestic horse slaughter inspections and addressing lax animal-welfare oversight at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center—both high-priority issues for the ASPCA—was retained in the final version. The bill was delivered to President Obama, who signed it this afternoon.

This post was originally published on December 16, 2015.

Just after 1:00 A.M. today, leaders in Congress released a proposed spending plan for FY2016. Included in the massive, 2,000-page bill are several long-sought and hard-won victories for animals.

First, the plan will continue the long-standing ban preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities. This provision, offered as an amendment in the Senate by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), and in the House by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), ensures that the cruel and predatory horse slaughter industry cannot resume in the United States in the coming fiscal year.

In addition to protecting horses, the bill requires the USDA to improve the animal welfare policies at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC)—a Nebraska facility whose horrendous treatment of animals was exposed in the New York Times—and other federally run agricultural facilities. This language, coupled with improved policies at the USDA, will for the first time subject USMARC to the basic standards, inspections and reporting requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

The bill also includes measures to help protect wild horses from slaughter and to ensure proper oversight and enforcement of laws cracking down on puppy mills and horse soring.  

While the package still needs to be approved by Congress and the President, the ASPCA thanks Congressional leaders for sending a clear message that animal welfare is a recognized priority in the House and Senate. We also thank the members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade for their thousands of letters, calls and emails to Congress on these issues over the past several months. Animal cruelty—whether in a horse slaughter plant or in agricultural research—must be stopped, not financed using our federal tax dollars. This recent action by Congress demonstrates a firm commitment to that goal.