Online tool reveals lawmakers’ stance on equine welfare

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Animal Wellness Action Executive Director Marty Irby speaks at a meeting on the organisation's federal equine protection work in Congress on PAST Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics).
Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby speaks at a meeting on the organisation’s federal equine protection work in Congress on the PAST Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics).

A new online tool is enabling US voters to see at a glance how their government representatives have acted on legislation surrounding animal welfare issues.

The Congressional Accountability Tool (CAT), a digital advocacy platform, was launched this week by Animal Wellness Action (Action), a new 501(c)(4) organization promoting legal standards against cruelty. Issues under scrutiny include the slaughter of horses (including wild mustangs and burros) for human consumption, horse soring, opening up national wildlife refuges and national preserves in Alaska to aerial hunting of bears, cracking down on staged animal fights in US territories, and adopting the nation’s first-ever anti-cruelty statute.

The CAT is a voter-centric tool that allows users to examine a detailed set of summaries on animal issues after inputting a zip code or selecting the name of the lawmaker. The information is assembled in two data clusters: 1) their records for the 115th Congress (from January 2017 to present) and 2) for much or all of their Congressional careers. The data visualization firm Periscopic, along with Animal Wellness Action creative director Michael Prieve, designed the tool.

Animal Wellness Action looked only at matters that attracted substantial Congressional debate and support and that animal protection groups considered important policy issues. While lawmakers have introduced more than 50 animal welfare bills in the 115th Congress, the CAT includes the 10 or so issues that had a critical mass of support and that offered the prospect of meaningful reform by being approved in both chambers.

There are five House bills (e.g., a ban on shark finning and a crackdown on the practice of “horse soring”) that a majority of House members have publicly signed onto as cosponsors. But Republican leaders are catering to a handful of bill opponents and not bringing up these bills for votes, denying the full House an opportunity to adopt an enormously popular set of reforms.

Senate leaders did bring up one of them, the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT), last December and it passed by unanimous consent. The House bill has 282 cosponsors, but the Judiciary Committee chairman has blocked it, even though more than half of the members of the committee are cosponsors of the bill. But Republican leaders can turn this situation around by allowing votes on this and other broadly supported issues in September before they leave Washington to focus on the mid-term elections.

For the measure of performance on animal issues over a larger span of the lawmakers’ careers, Animal Wellness Action selected the most important votes over the last 15 years, including votes on stopping the slaughter of cows too sick or injured to walk, establishing a national policy to include pets and the people who care about them when disasters strike, and the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

The information presented in the CAT reveals that Democrats have performed dramatically better than Republicans. In both the House and Senate, there were 130 Democrats in Congress with perfect scores, but only two Republicans – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. That said, every major effort to help or defend animals, except the effort to defeat the predator-killing resolutions on wildlife refuges and national preserves, had some meaningful Republican support, including the PACT Act with 100 Republican cosponsors. Republicans co-led all of the bills.

“Animal cruelty is a vice, and all people of conscience should oppose the needless harming and torturing of animals,” said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action.

“The Congressional Accountability Tool is the most accessible and user-friendly tool ever developed to allow voters to understand how lawmakers are performing on animal issues. I hope that lawmakers and citizens pay close attention to it, think of it as a living document, and strive to do more to help animals, which, at the end of the day, is really about helping all of us.”

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6 thoughts on “Online tool reveals lawmakers’ stance on equine welfare

  • September 9, 2018 at 5:09 pm
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    That is exactly why I keep telling people to VOTE ALL BLUE.. Of our horse bill HR113 with over 210 cosponsors only 34 are Republicans.. Horse slaughter is merely a reward for Criminals and Irresponsible people who should NOT even own an Animal.

    Reply
  • September 10, 2018 at 10:25 am
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    CAT will allow all voters to check the records of every lawmaker to see their voting records on vital issues and believe me we will do that. A majority of voters in the USA do NOT want animals to suffer cruel deaths just to satisfy a few greedy immoral people. Animal wellness groups are watching, and that includes me! Your voting records are an open book. Don’t forget that your work for the American public.

    Reply
  • September 11, 2018 at 4:03 am
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    Great! It is deplorable what is happening today to horses and burros in the Americas and throughout the world! This must be stopped and a new and better respectful relationship established. We can do it! Where there is a will and inspired vision, there shall be a practical way opened up. Craig

    Reply
  • September 11, 2018 at 5:02 pm
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    I am glad to see this. HR 113/American Safe Food, Safe Horse Export Act has 218 cosponsors but yet the Republican chair holds it hostage in committee. Horses and other equines are sent daily to slaughter in gigantic semis designed for cattle. The suffering is disgusting! But what’s more disgusting is the meat is toxic and poisonous based on the pharmeceticals administered to horses. And there is no mention of the upper respiratory diseases and the condition known as Strangles they contract by the time they arrive at the plant! No consideration for the innocent people consuming the meat. Its not a matter if they will get sick its a matter of when! Get out and vote Democratic to save our animals and the environment!

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  • September 16, 2018 at 11:53 am
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    its like the archaic Chinese binding of the peasant girls’ feet; this must stop for every horse on earth;

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