Late this morning, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment, offered by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., to the 2015 agriculture spending bill, to bar U.S. Department of Agriculture funding of horse slaughter plants in the United States, by a bipartisan vote of 28-22. The Senate approved an identical amendment, offered by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., just last week.
The House and Senate versions of the spending bills will now go to a conference committee, with the anti-horse slaughter provision included in both bills. It is likely to be retained in the final measure sent to President Obama for his signature. The policy of defunding horse slaughter operations is now law, so the recent actions by the House and Senate appropriators are designed to extend the current policy they helped put in place last year. The practical effect of the action is to prevent the opening of horse slaughter plants in Iowa, Missouri and New Mexico, or in any other state that develops such a misguided plan.
Horses helped settle the country, and we owe them more than to turn them into chopped patties. Horses are not raised for food here, and they are typically dosed with a variety of drugs not appropriate for human consumption. And since there's no market for horse meat in the United States, it's entirely an export market, to the dwindling number of countries that tolerate horse-eating.
Obviously, we as a nation have many horses without homes. It's best to get those horses to potential adopters or to rescues or sanctuaries. When that's not possible, horses can be euthanized, a more humane option than random-source collection, long-distance transport, and inhumane slaughter at plants where they can see or hear other horses being killed right in front of them. When faced with this brutalization of their fellow victims, their eyes open wide like saucers and they experience fear and even terror, based on our undercover investigations of these plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
"Horse slaughter has no place in American society and this amendment affirms that Congress does not condone this inhumane practice. These iconic creatures are a proud symbol of the American West that should be treasured for their beauty and treated humanely, not killed for export," said Rep. Moran. "The American public has made clear they oppose horse slaughter and today's vote reflects the will of the people."
Now our job is to get the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act passed, which would not only permanently bar horse slaughter in the United States, but also prevent the live export of horses to our North American neighbors for the purpose of slaughter. We call on the House and Senate leaders to bring up those bills for a fair vote before the end of the year.
We don't set up dog and cat slaughterhouses because we have some homeless companion animals, and then ship the meat to some outlier foreign country. We shouldn't adopt that practice for horses, either. Our economic decisions must always be guided by our values, including our opposition to cruelty and our recognition of the special place that some animals have in our culture.
Here's the roll-call vote (Yes is the pro-animal vote, No is the anti-animal vote, Not Voting are the members who did not vote or were not present):
Yes votes: Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Sam Farr (D-CA), Chakah Fattah (D-PA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Andy Harris (R-MD), Michael Honda (D-CA), David Joyce (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Jim Moran (D-VA), Bill Owens (D-NY), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), David Price (D-NC), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Frank Wolf (R-VA)
No votes: Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Mark Amodei (R-NV), John Carter (R-TX), Tom Cole (R-OK), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), John Culberson (R-TX), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Kay Granger (R-TX), Sam Graves (R-MO), Jaime Herrera Buetler (R-WA), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Tom Latham (R-IA), Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), Martha Roby (R-AL), Hal Rogers (R-KY), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Chris Stewart (R-UT), David Valadao (R-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR), Kevin Yoder (R-KS)
Not voting: Peter Visclosky (D-IN)
This post originally appeared on Wayne Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation.