Congress Returns from Summer Vacation to Determine the Fate of America’s Wild & Domesticated Horses

September 5, 2017

The fate of America’s horses – both domesticated and wild – hangs in the balance as Congress returns from August recess this week.

The actions that the House and Senate take this month will determine whether the horrific horse slaughter industry is allowed to reopen on U.S. soil and whether the Bureau of Land Management BLM) is authorized to begin a killing spree that could end with the destruction of tens of thousands of federally protected wild horses and burros – both those now in holding facilities and those remaining on the range.

This Week: Spotlight on the House

Action this week will focus on the House of Representatives, which is finalizing Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bills for multiple agencies, including the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. This legislation currently excludes two longstanding provisions to keep U.S. horse slaughter plants closed and to prohibit the BLM from killing healthy wild horses and burros.

Two amendments have been introduced to restore these protections for America’s horses:

·         The Buchanan/Roybal-Allard/Royce/Blumenauer Amendment (#25) would ban federal funding for meat inspections in horse slaughter plants, without which horse slaughter plants cannot operate in the U.S. 

·         The Titus/King/Polis/Curbelo/Lujan Grisham Amendment (#54) would restore the ban on killing healthy wild horses and burros, protecting tens of thousands of horses from mass destruction by the BLM.

On Tuesday (September 5, 2017), the House Rules Committee will meet to determine which of the hundreds of amendments submitted for this bill “will be ruled in order,” which means that they will be allowed to be considered when the spending package comes to the full House for a vote.

We won't know until later this week whether the Rules Committee will allow the two horse protection amendments to advance for consideration/debate by the full House membership. The full House vote will happen sometime after the Rules Committee makes this decision.

Next Week: Attention Turns to the Senate

On the Senate side, the situation is somewhat more hopeful for America’s horses.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has reported out the Agriculture Appropriations bill with the de facto U.S. horse slaughter ban (via defunding federal horsemeat inspections) included.

Consideration of the FY 2018 Interior Appropriations bill is pending, and the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee has not yet scheduled a mark-up hearing for this legislation.

This Subcommittee, led by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair, and ranking member Tom Udall, will decide whether to maintain longstanding protections for wild horses and burros against mass killing and slaughter. The hearing on this bill could happen as early as next week (Week of Sept. 11).

At the end of the process, whatever differences that remain between the House and Senate spending bills will be negotiated in a conference committee that includes leadership as well as Appropriations Committee chairs and ranking members.

What It All Means

There is still time to influence Congress to protect America’s wild horses in FY 2018 spending legislation! The decisions Congress makes in the next couple of weeks will determine whether tens of thousands of horses live or are brutally killed.

Three Things You Need To Do Today!

1. Call your Representative (202-224-3121) and ask him/her to support the Titus/King/Polis/Curbelo/Lujan Grisham Amendment and the Buchanan/Roybal-Allard/Royce/Bulmenauer Amendment to protect America's horses -- domesticated and wild. Follow the call up with an email to his/her office.

 2. Email us for assistance setting up a meeting with your Senators and for handouts that you can bring to the meeting.

3. Don’t wait – it’s coming down to the wire in Congress for America’s horses and you CAN make a difference. The horses don’t have a voice; so we must speak for them!