The just-concluded session of Congress came up short on meaningful animal welfare legislation, the head of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Wayne Pacelle, says.
He labelled it a lame-duck session, saying it passed no significant animal welfare legislation, despite a raft of bills with broad bipartisan support.
“For as long as I have been spending time on Capitol Hill and advocating for The HSUS and its concerns – 18 years – that’s the first time that’s happened,” Pacelle said in his blog, A Humane Nation.
The particulars were disturbing, he said.
“Republican House leaders, bowing to a handful of extremists in the caucus, would not bring up the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, even though it passed the Senate overwhelmingly and had 228 cosponsors in the House.
“It was primed for passage, but in the end we saw only excuses and obstructionism. The measure has no opposition other than organized animal fighting interests, but it does have more than 300 law enforcement agencies backing it.”
Pacelle noted that Congress did not take up a bill to phase out the use of barren battery cages, even though the society and the United Egg Producers championed a solution, in terms of a negotiated agreement, that promised to improve welfare standards for laying hens.
“The body took no action to crack down on transports of drugged-up American horses to slaughter in Canada and Mexico, even though 80 percent of Americans want to see the trade end.
“The HSUS has documented that American horses are injected and fed a wide range of drugs and other substances long prohibited for use in animals slaughtered for human consumption.”
Congress also came up short on legislation to ban the trade in nine species of large constricting snakes, and a handful of senators blocked floor consideration of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, meaning that chimpanzees, most of them not even used in experiments, will continue to languish in laboratories at taxpayer expense.
“We have a great many allies in Congress, but there are also a small number of lawmakers who are hostile to any progress on animal welfare.
“We need lawmakers to act with the country’s best interests at heart, and the work of the Congress should and must include a strong commitment to make the nation safer for animals and to root out cruelty.
“We’re deeply disappointed in the collective work of Congress, but hopeful that a new year, and some new faces in both chambers, will prompt lawmakers to pay closer attention to the public’s wishes and to exert its will for the good of the country.”
Pacelle’s full blog can be read here.