We Won in the Senate .. Now What?

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November 21, 2017

Yesterday’s news that the Senate Appropriations Committee has maintained protections for wild horses against killing and slaughter was a major positive development in the fight to protect wild horses and burros from Interior Secretary Zinke’s plan to destroy tens of thousands of these iconic animals in holding and on the range.

But the fight’s not over yet. Here’s what happened and what’s next.

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations legislation. It maintained the language prohibiting the BLM from destroying healthy wild horses and burros and selling them without restriction to anyone who intends to sell them for commercial slaughter. In addition, the Senate released an explanatory report that called on the BLM to address wild horse management through humane and politically viable solutions.

This is such an important development because it means the Senate has heard the voice of the American people loud and clear and has determined that mass killing or slaughter of wild horses and burros is neither humane nor politically viable! Thank you to EVERYONE who called, wrote, made videos and otherwise made your “voice” heard.

What’s next: Because the House passed a version of the Interior spending bill that stripped the prohibition on killing healthy wild horses and burros, the final decision will be a product of negotiations between the House and the Senate to reconcile the two versions of the bill.

Key decision makers in these negotiations are the chairs and ranking members of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittees: (Senators Lisa Murkowski [R-AK]  and Tom Udall [D-NM] , Representatives Ken Calvert [R-CA] and Betty McCollum [D-MN], as well as the chairs and ranking members of the full Appropriations Committee: Senators Thad Cochran [R-MS] and Patrick Leahy [D-VT] and Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen [R-NJ] and Nita Lowey [D-NY].

Last week, Senate Appropriations Chair Thad Cochran stated that the Senate is committed to completing spending legislation by the end of the year. However, that timing is uncertain, given the current state of affairs in Congress and the issue of tax reform, which is consuming much of its members’ time.

Almost certainly, Congress will pass another Continuing Resolution (CR) by December 8, when the current CR that is keeping the government funded and running in Fiscal Year 2018 (which began on October 1) expires.  This could push the decision on the final spending bill – including whether or not Congress will allow the BLM to kill tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros – into next year.

AWHC has a team of bipartisan lobbyists representing our cherished mustangs and burros in DC. Our team continues to monitor this situation and we will keep you updated on the latest twists and turns as Congress makes its decisions regarding funding the government for the remainder of the Fiscal Year. We should know much more by the end of next week, so stay please stand by. We are going to need you to weigh in again, but we want to make sure that you weigh in at a time when your voice will most likely be heard.