The Omnibus Bill is pending for final approvals, expected to come as early as Friday Dec. 18. Today on Dec. 17 the full House voted for the tax package, and tomorrow it is expected to pass the massive spending bill. The Senate will deal with both tax and spending measures on Friday. President Obama will then receive both the $622-billion package of tax breaks and the $1.1-trillion spending package, which he is expected to sign. Meanwhile, House and Senate lawmakers will adjourn until next year. While a costly appropriations bill such as this receives grumbles from various sectors, it will fund our government until end-September 2016 and delivers discussed tax breaks, some of which will become permanent. There seem to be no “sneaky” hidden riders.
From what we presently know about this bill, chief executive and president of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, believes that animal welfare advocates, horse lovers and concerned animal friends are thankful with the outcome.
The bill contains a precise ban regarding wild horses going to slaughter. The primary champion of this language is Senator Tom Udall, who states, “Appropriations herein made shall not be available for the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of the Bureau or its contractors or for the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.” Because of Sen. Udall’s stance, wild horses and burros are protected from being sent to slaughter.
Language is included forbidding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] to allow funds for horsemeat inspections at horse slaughterhouses in the United States. Commonly referred to as “defunding” the USDA’s horsemeat inspections, construction or establishment of horse slaughterhouses in our nation is prohibited as is the conversion of other processing plants into horse killing plants since no federal horsemeat inspections may be funded. This defunding language has been included in previous U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] spending bills but was removed at the last minute last year and was also in danger this year with a “key House committee attempting a block [tie vote 24 to 24]. Fortunately, negotiators managed to get the defunding language included.
The bill provides “strong funding levels for Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act enforcement, anti-wildlife trafficking efforts and the development of alternatives to animal testing through a key program at the National Institutes of Health.”
The bill refuses funding for USDA licenses [or re-licensing] of Class B animal dealers to sell dogs and cats for use in research. Also included is language and funding to disparage USDA farm animal abuse at federal agricultural research facilities. This language inclusion requires stringent animal welfare standards.
Protection for gray wolves is retained under the Endangered Species Act. Allowance is made for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to tighten up domestic ivory trading and to protect elephants from poaching.
Animal welfare advocates are grateful for the many animal friends who contacted their legislators and also to the senators and representatives who listened and represented the public’s wishes. This is a major moment in time for some of the deserving animals.