WASHINGTON – Think of all the things that need addressing by Congress: Health care, taxes, Iran, North Korea, jobs, vote fraud…. And more.
So what have Republican lawmakers done?
They’ve just voted to allow horses to be slaughtered in the United States for human consumption, a reversal of previous measures that prevented the practice.
Slaughtering horses is extremely unpopular among Republican voters particularly, with a poll by the American Wild Horse Campaign reporting that “an overwhelming 80 percent of Americans, including 86 percent of 2016 Trump voters and 77 percent of Clinton voters, want Congress to keep anti-slaughter protections in place.”
A spending bill signed into law by President Trump in May banned the slaughter of horses for consumption, but last month lawmakers in the House Appropriates Committee narrowly rejected an amendment that would ban horse slaughter for the 2018 fiscal year.
Trump’s initial bill would have allowed excess horses to be euthanized or sold to Mexican or Canadian slaughterhouses, rather than slaughtered in the United States.
The House Appropriations Committee also approved an amendment from Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, last month to the Department of the Interior’s annual appropriations bill that allows the Bureau of Land Management to kill “healthy, unadopted wild horses” in their care.
BLM is currently responsible for overseeing approximately 46,000 wild horses, at a cost of around $50 million annually.
According to David Horowitz at Frontpagemag, the current program has a history of failure and is a drain on taxpayers.
“The BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program has quadrupled in size since 2000, rising from $20.4 million to $80.4 million in 2017. But it’s not working. In fact, there are few examples of government mismanagement quite as egregious as the BLM’s handling of the program,” Horowitz writes.
BLM is tasked with preventing the overpopulation of these wild horses, and in order to do so regularly rounds up horses from the wild and sends them to “holding facilities where most remain for the rest of their lives, despite repeated admonitions from Congress and scientific advisory panels that this [is] a very bad idea,” Horowitz notes.
Horowitz believes the solution is instead a campaign of sterilization and population control, not simply culling horses whenever herds become too large. Rather than pursue this solution, however, BLM has requested approval to slaughter “up to 90,000 wild horses.”
The gain for Republican lawmakers with such a decision wasn’t immediately clear.
“After the July 12 ban-lifting vote, there was immediate blowback against the heartless, inhumane Republicans,” Horowitz explains.
The Humane Society’s Martin Irby, who considers himself a “lifelong Republican” denounced the pro-slaughter measures.
“I’m deeply saddened and quite ashamed to see my fellow conservatives go to such great lengths to promote the slaughter of American equines,” he said.
Democrats are in agreement: “We deeply regret the committee’s failure to adopt Rep. [Louise] Roybal-Allard’s [D-Calif.] amendment to prohibit the inspection of horses for slaughter for human food. There are far better and more humane ways to deal with unwanted horses, and the past experience in this country of slaughtering horses for human food was, frankly, a disaster,” Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., said in a statement.
The only sizable pro-slaughter groups are the beef lobby and cattle ranchers, who would rather public land be used for livestock grazing.
“The beef producers which are the main lobby for this legislation are apparently fine with their cattle ‘destroying the range’ because they profit from it. Protect the Harvest is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit founded, funded, and run by cattleman and energy magnate Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil Products Inc. and a driving force behind the new horse slaughter legislation,” Horowitz states.
Irby agrees: “Lucas has gone to great lengths to bring horse slaughter back.”
“This politically tone-deaf move by Republicans to lift a justly popular ban on horse-killing makes them water-carriers for inhumane legislation promoted by a special interest seeking to benefit itself at the expense of a noble creature and an American heritage,” Horowitz concludes.