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Coming Together on Behalf of Animals

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"Compromise" seems to be the dirtiest word in politics these days.

On issue after issue -- taxes, spending, women's rights -- Congress couldn't be more divided. The operating mindset is that if you're standing with the other party, you're standing with the enemy.

Most people have written off any chance of compromise -- on anything significant -- this election year. A government shutdown may be more likely in the next 12 months than a Senate-passed budget.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Not on everything.

There's one issue that I've been watching very carefully that could bridge the political gap. And it's really a no-brainer: basic, sensible protections to improve the lives of animals.

Earlier this year, I wrote about how two usual foes, the United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), came together and agreed to a compromise that will set new national standards for the egg industry and finally ban the most inhumane battery cages.

These two adversaries both recognized that a piecemeal policy that differed state-by-state was not effective or sensible, and they came together to bridge their differences and reach a resolution.

Now it's time to keep this momentum going, and for Congress to take action. Just last week, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in the Senate (S. 3239) along with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors to codify the UEP/HSUS compromise into law. There's an identical bill (H.R. 3798) in the House.

But the effort isn't going to get anywhere without public support. That's why you should contact your senator and urge them to cosponsor the bill, standing up for animal rights and showing that, at least on some things in Washington, compromise is still possible.

Another issue with a huge impact on the lives of animals has also been gaining traction lately. Momentum has been building to ban the ghastly practice of using gestation crates in the pork industry. Gestation crates are the inhumane cages that are so confined a pig can't even turn around. Through compromise and negotiation, Hormel Foods announced it was ending the practice in January, McDonald's followed in February -- announcing it was working with its suppliers to phase put that practice -- and now we've seen similar commitments from Burger King and Wendy's.

It makes sense that when the public stands up in support of reasonable standards for farm animal treatment, corporate America and Congress should listen. It started in 2008, when California voters passed Proposition 2 with the most "yes" votes of any California citizen-backed initiative in history. Then corporations began to take action. Now it's time for Congress to follow suit.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I consult with the Humane Society of the United States on ways to expand their online community to protect animals and confront cruelty -- something very important to me and my family.

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