December 5, 2017 ... You may have heard that things in Washington are not working very well these days, and we’re here to report that’s exactly correct. Congress should have completed Fiscal Year 2018 spending legislation – including for the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Program -- before the fiscal year started on October 1.
They did not.
Instead, Congress passed a stop-gap continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running. The CR simply extends government operations at last year’s spending levels for a period of time, in this case, through Friday, December 8. While not an efficient way to run a government, the CR has actually been good for wild horses and burros, as they continue to be protected from slaughter under last year’s law even while they are threatened by the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Interior who both want the law changed.
Congress will very likely extend the CR again through December 22 or 30 to give themselves extra time to finish their budget work and pass an “omnibus” spending bill, which will fund all agencies and programs through the remainder of FY 2018. During the two or three additional weeks under a CR, they hope to strike a deal on spending levels and numerous policy riders.
There are many disagreements between both Republicans and Democrats, and Representatives and Senators, regarding many provisions in the spending bills. As we’ve reported previously, the House version of the Interior spending bill (which funds the BLM) contains a provision that allows the Department of Interior to slaughter kill healthy horses and burros considered to be “excess” in holding facilities and on the range. Fortunately, we were able to keep that language out of the Senate bill.
In order to pass omnibus spending legislation, the House and the Senate must come together on one version of the bill. As a result, there is a fight, or rather a spirited negotiation, to determine which version will become law. The outcome of this decision is critical to every wild horse and burro on the range and in holding right now, so please consider getting involved in the effort to preserve these magnificent creatures. We must ensure that the Senate version, which continues to prohibit killing thousands of horses and burros, prevails and that the BLM continues to be prohibited from killing healthy wild horses and burros and selling them for slaughter.
The complexity and number of issues to be resolved may mean that the Congress needs additional time beyond December to finalize the legislative text of an Omnibus spending bill, but the timing and ultimate outcome aren’t known at this time. The only outcome that is certain is this: thanks to your continued support, AWHC will be on the ground in Congress working tirelessly with our allies to ensure the Senate version prevails and our wild horses and burros continue to be protected on our Western public lands for generations to come.