BUDGET DEBATE for Fiscal Year 2018

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  • The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act has been weakened over the years by amendments pushed by the livestock lobby. As amended, the Act allows for the destruction of "excess" horses in the "most humane and cost-effective manner possible."  It also allows for the sale without restriction of any horse aged 10 or over, or any horse that has been put up for adoption three times but has not been adopted. This allows federally protected wild horses and burros to be sold for slaughter.
  • In most years, Congress includes language in the Interior Appropriations legislation, which funds the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other agencies of the U.S. Department of Interior to prevent these lethal provisions from being implemented. This language prohibits the BLM from destroying healthy wild horses and burros and from selling them to anyone who intends to sell them for commercial processing (slaughter). 
  • In May 2017, the Interior Department released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget request, which proposes cutting the budget for the BLM wild horse program by $10 million and asks Congress to allow for the killing and slaughter of wild horses and burros. (See also BLM budget detail.)
  • Specifically, the BLM asked Congress to lift the ban on slaughtering and killing wild horses and burros (BLM Budget Justification - relevant language on II-4.)
  • The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee reported out the Interior Appropriations Bill to the full committee with the anti-slaughter and killing provisions in place.  However when the bill came before the full House Appropriations Committee, Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT) offered an amendment that stripped the bill of the provision prohibiting the destruction of healthy horses but left in place the prohibition on selling them for slaughter. (See Stewart Amendment on last page of this link.)
  • The Stewart Amendment modified the appropriations bill as follows:

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1.     fied amount of money in support of the project may be

2.    carried out by the Bureau on a reimbursable basis. Appro-

3.    priations herein made shall not be available for the de-

4.    struction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros

5.    in the care of the Bureau or its contractors or for the

6.    sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruc-

7.    tion for processing into commercial products, including for human consumption.

  • In November 2017, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee released its version of the FY 2018 Interior Appropriations bill. The Senate maintained language prohibiting both the destruction of healthy wild horses and burros and the sale “without limitation” of these animals (for slaughter). In its explanatory statement, the Senate directed the BLM to come up with “humane and politically viable” solutions for managing wild horses.
  • The final bill will be a product of negotiations between the House and the Senate.
  • The government is currently being funded by a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on January 19, 2018.
  • Polls conducted this year show that 80% of Americans – including 86% of Trump voters and 77% of Clinton voters – oppose killing and slaughter of wild horses and burros.