Today, the U.S. House passed the FY20 spending bill, H.R. 3055, which included two crucial animal welfare provisions that allocate dedicated funding to the enforcement of our federal anti-cruelty laws to stop animal fighting, horse soring, and other malicious acts of cruelty.
Amendment #85, passed by a roll call vote of 381 to 50, instructs the U.S. Department of Justice to use $2 million from the Legal Activities account to enforce animal welfare crimes. The amendment was sponsored by Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Peter King (R-NY), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Cindy Axne (D-IA). The amendment was offered for the purpose of directing the Department of Justice to allocate resources to enforce federal criminal statutes to stop animal cruelty, including the federal animal fighting laws, the Horse Protection Act, and the Animal Welfare Act.
Amendment #116 passed by a voice vote en bloc, provides $1 million dollars for the enforcement of the animal fighting law through the USDA’s Office of Inspector General. The amendment was sponsored by Reps. Joe Neguse (D-CO), Peter King (R-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Ron Estes (R-KS). Congress has upgraded the federal law against animal fighting (7 U.S.C. § 2156 and 18 U.S.C. § 49) five times in the last two decades, and this amendment signals to USDA that it should aggressively crack down on federal statutes passed to protect animals.
I would like to make the intent of this amendment clear that Congress is directing the DOJ 's Environment and Natural Resources Division to allocate $2 million to enforce our nation's animal welfare laws. Congress has taken meaningful steps over the past several decades and especially in the past few years to improve animal welfare and rid this country of heartless cruelty towards animals.
— U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens
I was honored to lead this bipartisan, commonsense amendment to secure funds for USDA investigations of animal fighting. Enforcement by USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which is responsible for investigating these crimes, has badly lagged. With adequate funding moving forward, the OIG can better identify and intervene in these horrific crimes, and ultimately bring these cruel activities to an end. Addressing these crimes will not only help prevent the suffering of animals, but will also deter the drug trafficking, gang violence, and other violence against people that goes hand-in-hand with animal fighting activities.
— U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse
The amendments, #85 and #116 to H.R. 3055, were championed by Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, the Center for a Humane Economy, the American Horse Protection Society, and Horses For Life Foundation.