Udall Pushes for Anti-Doping Rules for U.S. Horseracing in U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Reauthorization Bill
Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), member of the Senate Commerce Committee, called again for Congress to act to ban doping in U.S. horse racing and secured passage of a related amendment during the Commerce Committee’s markup of legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the independent, national anti-doping organization for the U.S. Olympic teams.
In the same week that U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman brought federal indictments filed against 27 defendants in the Southern District of New York for “the most far-reaching prosecution of racehorse doping in the history of the Department of Justice,” the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously accepted Udall’s amendment to require USADA to report to Congress within 180 days about its capabilities to implement a horseracing anti-doping program and to make recommendations to Congress about how a successful program would be designed.
“My bill would empower USADA to act as the anti-doping organization for all horseracing. USADA would develop the anti-doping framework, education, testing, and adjudication programs. Penalties would include a “one and done” lifetime ban for most severe cases.”
This week, 11 trainers, seven veterinarians and nine drug suppliers and distributors were charged in an international racehorse doping scheme. The continued chronic abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in horseracing is commonplace and undermines the safety and viability of the sport. Drugged up with painkillers and performance-enhancing substances, racehorses can be pushed beyond their limits, leading to break downs with potentially fatal consequences for horses and jockeys.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart issued a statement on March 9, 2020 following the release of the federal indictments, saying “[w]ith the horse racing industry at a crossroads, the right thing to do is to remove the fox from guarding the henhouse and ensure there is an independent anti-doping body in place to protect the integrity of the sport and the safety of the horses.”
Udall’s amendments included:
Chair Grijalva, Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Write to House and Senate Interior Appropriators Urging Clarity, Funding Limits on BLM Horse Program
Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers today wrote to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations panels with oversight of the Department of the Interior (DOI) to urge funding limits and additional clarity on a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) pilot program to manage wild horse populations in the West
The letter is directed to Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), chair and ranking member respectively of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; and Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio), the chair and ranking member respectively of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.
CLICK HERE to read the letter.
The House and Senate versions of the Interior-Environment appropriations bill – which are currently being reconciled – each include funding for an untested pilot project that calls for a dramatic increase in round-ups and removals. The House bill provides $6 million in additional funding for the program while the Senate bill provides $35 million, and each bill includes report language calling for a total removal of 130,000 horses over the next decade.
As the authors point out, “That plan has never been presented for consideration in the authorizing committees of jurisdiction, would triple the number of horses and burros in holding, and could cost taxpayers billions.” They also note concerns that the House and Senate report language “opens the door to surgical sterilization procedures” that face opposition “by many stakeholders, including veterinarians.”
The authors urge appropriators to take three steps in a final conference version of the funding bill:
In addition to Grijalva, the letter is signed by Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands; and by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.).
Today, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee included a provision in the FY2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill to maintain the ban on slaughtering horses in the U.S, thanks to Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Susan Collins (R-ME), all longtime leaders on the issue. The language bars the use of taxpayer dollars for horse slaughter inspections, which effectively prevents the plants from operating. Similar language was included in the House FY20 Agriculture Appropriations bill in June and is expected to be included in any final spending bill passed by Congress.
“Horses are our dutiful companions and partners in work and sport – not a meal. They have loyally stood by us as we built this country together, and they deserve better than to be brutally slaughtered,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at Animal Wellness Action. “Horse slaughter is animal cruelty, and taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for it.”
Horse slaughter plants previously operated in the U.S. until 2007 and shipped the meat overseas to foreign countries for human consumption.
It is a cruel and torturous process for the horses who become victims of this predatory industry; many are severely injured during transport to horse slaughter plants and some horses are even slaughtered while conscious.
Because the horsemeat is utilized for human consumption, horse slaughter plants cannot operate in the U.S. if inspections are defunded. The language to defund horse slaughter has been maintained in most yearly spending bills to keep plants shuttered, thanks to the tireless work of advocates to elevate this issue in Congress; however, it is not a permanent solution – Congress must reconsider the issue yearly.
A controversial proposal, The Path Forward, 10 Years to AML plan, regarding the management of wild horses, is currently being considered in FY20 Interior Appropriations. The plan poses a real threat to maintaining the defunding of U.S. horse slaughter plants. Peddled by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), ASPCA, Return to Freedom, and so-called American Mustang Foundation, the proposal would break the budget of BLM and dramatically expand inhumane roundups of wild horses every year, accumulating to over 100,000 additional captive horses over a ten-year period at a cost upwards of a billion dollars. Animal Wellness Action and other wild horse and burro advocates have worked tirelessly encouraging Congress to direct BLM to increase fertility control programs as a way to humanely check population growth on our federal lands and to reduce roundups and removals.