What Happened Yesterday with Horses on Capitol Hill?

By Suzanne Roy

July 13, 2017

Two important votes – one bad, one good -- took place in the House of Representatives yesterday regarding the future of America’s horses.

The Bad Vote: Ag Spending Bill Amendment to Keep Horse Slaughter Out of US Voted Down

Yesterday, the full House Appropriations Committee voted on an amendment to the FY 2018 Agriculture Department spending bill that would have prohibited federal funding for USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants. Without such inspections, horse slaughter plants cannot sell meat for human consumption. So the  amendment, which has been included in most Agriculture Appropriations bills since the last U.S. slaughter plant closed in 2007, is a de facto way of keeping horse slaughter out of the U.S.

Unfortunately, this amendment lost by two votes (27-25).

Voting Yes (against slaughter):  Pete Aguilar, D-CA; Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., D-GA; Matt Cartwright, D-PA; Katherine M. Clark, D-MA; Rosa L. DeLauro, D-CT; Charles W. Dent, R-PA; David P. Joyce, R-OH; Marcy Kaptur, D-OH; Derek Kilmer, D-WA; Barbara Lee, D-CA; Nita M. Lowey, D-NY; Grace Meng, D-NY; Betty McCollum, D-MN; Chellie Pingree, D-ME; Mark Pocan, D-WI; David E. Price, D-NC; Mike Quigley, D-IL; Thomas J. Rooney, R-FL; Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA; C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-MD; Tim Ryan, D-OH; José E. Serrano, D-NY; Peter J. Visclosky, D-IN; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL; Kevin Yoder, R-KS;

Voting No (in favor of slaughter): Robert B. Aderholt, R-AL; Mark E. Amodei, R-NV; Ken Calvert, R-CA; John R. Carter, R-TX; Tom Cole, R-OK; Henry Cuellar, R-TX; John Abney Culberson, R-TX; Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL; Charles J. Fleischmann, R-TN; Jeff Fortenberry, R-NE; Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, R-NJ; Kay Granger, R-TX; Tom Graves, R-GA; Andy Harris, R-MD; Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA; Evan H. Jenkins, R-WV; John R. Moolenaar, R-MI; Dan Newhouse, R-WA; Steven Palazzo, R-MI; Martha Roby, R-AL; Harold Rogers, R-KY; Michael K. Simpson, R-ID; Chris Stewart, R-UT; Scott Taylor, R-VA; David G. Valadao, R-CA; Steve Womack, R-AK; David Young, R-IA

The bill still must make it through a vote before the full House, before moving on to the Senate.

Even if passed, any prospective U.S. horse slaughter plants would have to go through local and state approval processes, where they would no doubt encounter strong public opposition and litigation. Not many people want  a horse slaughter plant in their neighborhood!

While yesterday's vote against an amendment to defund horse slaughter inspections is a setback for the fight to protect American horses from the brutality of slaughter, it is not the end of the road, by far. There will be additional opportunities at the full House and in the Senate to amend the final spending bill to keep horse slaughter plants shuttered in the U.S.

Therefore, we must keep the pressure on to convince Congress to honor the will of the American people by banning this cruel practice once and for all.

Read our response to pro-slaughter floor statements here

The Good Vote: Ban on Wild Horse Slaughter Kept In Interior Spending Bill

Later yesterday, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee held a markup on the FY 2018 spending bill for the Interior Department. The bill reported out of subcommittee yesterday did not grant the Interior Department’s budget request to lift the ban on slaughtering federally-protected wild horses and burros.

That is great news! The bill will now be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee next week, and it contains the provision prohibiting the BLM from destroying healthy wild horses and burros and selling these cherished animals for slaughter. This is an important first step in the fight to protect as many as 92,000 wild horses and burros from mass killing by our federal government. However, we expect a hostile amendment to be offered at the full committee hearing that would permit slaughter of these American icons. Although it is harder to strip a provision from an existing bill, we cannot underestimate the determination of proponents like Chris Stewart (R-UT) who want to slaughter our wild horses and burros!

That’s why, in the next week, we must redouble our efforts to convince these committee members to vote against any amendment that would result in the harm or destruction of our wild horses and burros. Congress must honor the American public’s overwhelming support for protecting these iconic animals on our public lands.

What You Can Do:

1.      Call your Representative’s office and tell them to maintain the ban on slaughtering wild horses in the 2018 appropriations bill. Also, set up an appointment to meet with staff in their district offices and contact us for talking points and materials to share at the meeting.

2.      If any of the following members of the House Appropriations Committee are your Representatives, you are in a special position of influence. Email us to find out how you can get more involved.

Republicans - Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, New Jersey, Chairman; Harold Rogers, Kentucky; Robert B. Aderholt, Alabama; Kay Granger, Texas; Michael K. Simpson, Idaho; John Abney Culberson, Texas; John R. Carter, Texas; Ken Calvert, California; Tom Cole, Oklahoma; Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida; Charles W. Dent, Pennsylvania; Tom Graves, Georgia; Kevin Yoder, Kansas; Steve Womack, Arkansas; Jeff Fortenberry, Nebraska; Thomas J. Rooney, Florida; Charles J. Fleischmann, Tennessee; Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington; David P. Joyce, Ohio; David G. Valadao, California ; Andy Harris, MD, Maryland ; Martha Roby, Alabama; Mark E. Amodei, Nevada ; Chris Stewart, Utah; David Young, Iowa; Evan H. Jenkins, West Virginia; Steven Palazzo, Mississippi; Dan Newhouse, Washington; John R. Moolenaar, Michigan; Scott Taylor, Virginia

Democrats - Nita M. Lowey, New York; Marcy Kaptur, Ohio; Peter J. Visclosky, Indiana; José E. Serrano, New York; Rosa L. DeLauro, Connecticut; David E. Price, North Carolina; Lucille Roybal-Allard, California; Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Georgia; Barbara Lee, California; Betty McCollum, Minnesota; Tim Ryan, Ohio; C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida; Henry Cuellar, Texas; Chellie Pingree, Maine ; Mike Quigley, Illinois; Derek Kilmer, Washington; Matt Cartwright, Pennsylvania; Grace Meng, New York; Mark Pocan, Wisconsin; Katherine M. Clark, Massachusetts; Pete Aguilar, California.

3.      Share this video to spread the word far and wide about what is at stake in this fight.

4.      Donate to support our #NoHorseSlaughter campaign aimed at beating back the forces that want to destroy our magnificent wild horses and burros, both in holding facilities and on the range.

Thank you for keeping up the pressure to save our wild horses and burros. America can’t be great if these national symbols of freedom are destroyed! #NoHorseSlaughter! No way!