House Leaders Block Series of Animal Welfare Votes

at the history of any social reform movement, and you'll see heroes who led the
way. Yet the historical record is also peppered with people who did
the opposite, blocking progress by any means they could muster. Those
leaders and those obstructionists also did their handiwork in legislative
bodies, including in our Congress. When the subject of women's rights came up,
male lawmakers mocked the notion. When civil rights emerged as an issue,
some white lawmakers stood in the way, spewing hatred that gave voice to their
prejudices and dim view of the world. Until, that is, they were overcome by the
forces of history, and the power of right.

is the case today with animal welfare, with strong leaders driving needed
change. But there remain a small number of lawmakers who shill for outliers in
the agribusiness industry and others who have no regard for the well-being of
animals, and simply see them as economic opportunities in the waiting.

night, the House Republican leadership made a statement about animal welfare
and their disregard for that universal value in our society. The Rules
Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions, denied the full House the opportunity to
debate three critical bipartisan amendments: to codify a national agreement to
approve the welfare of egg-laying hens in barren battery cages - and to nix the
amendment and its attack on states' rights, to end
the shameful slaughter
of healthy American horses for human consumption,
and to crack
down on horse soring
(deliberately inflicting pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses in training and in
the show ring).

Kathy Milani/The HSUS

Rules Committee approved more than 100 amendments for consideration, but not
one animal welfare amendment. The members chose to include amendments for
floor debate on promotion and research on natural stone, Christmas tree taxes, and on the spiny dogfish,
but could not find their way to allowing debate on policies to help hundreds of
millions of animals suffering right now. Mind you, the egg industry reform
bill was a compromise measure among all the key stakeholders - producers,
animal welfare groups, consumers and scientists. It was not going to require an
act of courage to ratify it, but merely a sensible execution of their

the beef and pork lobbies, and the Farm Bureau, demanded its demise. Maybe
we would listen to these people if cows and pigs laid eggs, but they do
not. These special interests simply want to obstruct any progress on
animal welfare, and no decent-minded lawmakers should heed their reckless
demands. Their worldview is that that we've reached the end point of
animal welfare policy-making, or more honestly, that there should be no
policy-making at all for farm animals.

Speaker John Boehner announced prior to the Rules Committee fiasco, "The Leader
[Rep. Eric Cantor] and I will encourage the Rules Committee to provide a fair
process that will allow for a vigorous and open debate - the kind of process I
pledged we would have more of in the House when I became speaker."

called hollow-speak. You cannot make such claims and then just allow
amendments you agree with. This is an abuse of power and an abuse of the
process. There's no reason that all animal welfare amendments should have
been denied consideration, especially since they were all authored by
respected, mainstream Republican lawmakers with bipartisan cosponsors.

it's critical that animal advocates contact
their lawmakers
and urge them to defeat the Farm Bill, H.R. 1947. Please
do your part.

House Agriculture Committee, which impedes animal welfare at nearly every turn
and has fought positive actions to help animals in many ways, had previously
allowed the King amendment
to be inserted into the Farm Bill, even though there
was no underlying bill to examine, no hearings, and no assessment of its
sweeping impact on state law. This reckless measure seeks to nullify state laws
and rules that impose any standard of condition on agricultural
products. That could sweep up and nullify a half dozen state anti-horse
slaughter laws, ten state laws to restrict extreme confinement of pigs and
laying hens, and more than a half dozen bans on the sale of shark fins for
soup. And that's just the start. It's the lowest common denominator
approach to policymaking, and puts all states at the mercy of one or a handful
of states.

the Agriculture Committee leaders, who worked in tandem with House leadership
to block major animal welfare reforms from even being debated last night, all
fought the provision to crack down on people bringing kids to dogfights and
cockfights and to make it a crime to be a spectator at these awful spectacles
of cruelty. They lost that battle because a majority of their committee
members favored our position. And they knew they'd lose the fight over egg
industry reform and protection of horses, so their only maneuver was to block a
fair and open debate.

the late hours of the night, they made a mockery of their comments about
transparency and open and vigorous debate about the issues that concern
American citizens. Call and email
your House member today and urge him or her to oppose H.R. 1947. It must be
defeated for the sake of our cause, and these lawmakers must hear our roar.

This post originally appeared on Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation