The US Senate has passed over an opportunity to ban the export of live horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for human consumption.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill without any provision to ban the export of slaughter horses, putting in jeopardy the anti-slaughter provision comfortably adopted more than a month ago in the House by a voice vote.
The Senate assembled anew its Infrastructure bill, taking the House bill and number, H.R. 3684, the INVEST Act, but little else. The Senate effectively stripped an amendment led by US Representatives Troy Carter (D-La.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Dina Titus, (D-Nev.) and Steve Cohen, (D-Tenn.).
The amendment to H.R. 3684, conceived by the advocacy group Animal Wellness Action, would have banned the transport of equines across state and federal lines for the purposes of slaughter for human consumption.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) made an attempt to keep the anti-slaughter transport language in play by filing his own amendment, but it gained no momentum.
“We are disappointed the Senate continues to treat the ongoing slaughter of tens of thousands of horses as anything but an urgent matter,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action.
“Here was an opportunity to solve a major animal welfare problem that the American public overwhelmingly supports and that’s been circulating in the Senate for a quarter century. House members should vote against the Senate-passed infrastructure bill or amend the measure to restore the anti-slaughter language,” he said.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy, voiced his dismay over the loss of the provision. “We’ve watched tens of thousands of horses endure a horrible passage to Canada and Mexico every year and then get slaughtered at foreign abattoirs for a small segment of consumers in Asia and Europe,” he said.
“Americans want to see this ruthless and predatory industry stop gathering up and victimizing American horses and burros. Failing to take up this issue was a terrible missed opportunity for the Senate.”
The measure dropped by the Senate has been endorsed by more than 229 animal and equine protection and advocacy groups, organizations, rescues, and businesses in the US, including The Jockey Club; The Breeders’ Cup; New York Racing Association, which operates The Belmont Stakes; Pimlico Racetrack, which operates The Preakness Stakes; the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance; the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization; US Harness Racing Alumni Association; Claiborne Farm; Stone Farm, where three Kentucky Derby winners were raised; Crawford Farms; West Point Thoroughbreds; Nick Zito; Pin Oak Stud; the Texas State Horse Council; Winterstone Pictures; the Horses for Life Foundation; the Animal Wellness Foundation; and Center for a Humane Economy, to name a few.
The House-passed provision was led by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Vern Buchanan, the lead authors of the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (the stand-alone anti-horse slaughter bill); Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Andy Barr (R-Ky.), who are co-chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus; and Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), Donald Payne, (D-N.J.), Guy Reschenthaler, (R-Pa.), and Jerry Nadler, (D-N.Y.)
While horse slaughter does not currently occur on US soil because of defunding language that prevents federally required inspections at abattoirs, tens of thousands of domestic and wild horses are shipped to Mexico and Canada each year to be slaughtered for human consumption, supplying markets around the world.
Stand-alone legislation that would permanently ban both the transportation of slaughter-bound horses and slaughter itself – the SAFE Act – was recently introduced, but despite the passage of a similar bill 15 years ago, and the majority of House members cosponsoring the measure in the 116th Congress, enactment of the legislation continues to be an uphill battle.
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