[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 109 (Thursday, September 7, 2006)]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 503, AMERICAN HORSE SLAUGHTER PREVENTION ACT
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 981 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
H. Res. 981
Resolved, That at any time after the adoption of this resolution the Speaker may, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 503) to amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes. The first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. General debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour and twenty minutes equally divided and controlled by the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader or their designees.
After general debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. The bill shall be considered as read. Notwithstanding clause 11 of rule XVIII, no amendment shall be in order except those printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution. Each such amendment may be offered only in the order printed in the report, may be offered only by a Member designated in the report, shall be considered as read, shall be debatable for the time specified in the report equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment, and shall not be subject to a demand for division of the question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole. All points of order against such amendments are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report the bill to the House with such amendments as may have been adopted. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and amendments thereto to final passage without intervening motion except one motion to recommit with or without instructions.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Aderholt). The gentleman from Florida (Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart) is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Matsui), pending which I yield myself such time as I
may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.
(Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, the rule provides 1 hour and 20 minutes of general debate, equally divided and controlled by the majority leader and the minority leader. The rule also provides
one motion to recommit, with or without instructions.
Horse meat is generally not consumed by people in the United States, but more than approximately 90,000 were slaughtered for human consumption in 2005. Virtually all of those horses were slaughtered for
export and sent to the largest markets for that product, to countries such as France and Belgium, where it is commonly served to humans.
Another 30,000 were transported from the United States to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. A number of States currently have laws that prohibit slaughter or facilitating the slaughter of horses for human consumption, but there is not a nationwide ban.
Last year during consideration of the fiscal 2006 agriculture appropriations bill, my good friends, distinguished Members Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Whitfield, offered an amendment to that bill that would have
prohibited the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for slaughter plant and horse meat inspections, effectively ending the practice. The amendment passed the House with bipartisan support by a strong 269-158 vote. A
similar amendment also passed the Senate. However, horse slaughter plants petitioned the USDA to allow fee-for-service inspections whereby the plants pay for the inspections. The USDA granted the request. To
get around the limitation amendment, horse slaughter plants made that petition to the USDA to allow for inspections.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act would prohibit an individual from slaughtering a horse for human consumption in the United States and would also prevent the transportation of horses from the
United States to Canada or Mexico for the purpose of slaughter for human food.
This legislation, H.R. 503, was introduced by Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Whitfield. I commend both of them for their hard work on this issue, an issue that obviously is very important to them and their constituents.
I urge my colleagues to support both the rule and the underlying legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend, the gentleman from Florida, for yielding me this time, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Ms. MATSUI asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, the rule before the House would make in order H.R. 503, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. This bill has the support of 203 bipartisan co-sponsors, myself included. Passing
this bill will end the cruel and barbaric practice of horse slaughter. t will ensure that horses are treated humanely up until their deaths, which is a goal that both supporters and opponents of the legislation
can support. It will also improve conditions for living horses.
In my home State of California, for example, we have experienced no increase in cases of horse abuse or neglect since we banned their slaughter in 1998. Horse theft cases in California have declined by 35 percent since then as well.
Simply put, horses are an integral part of our country's culture and history. They do not deserve to be slaughtered in the brutal conditions which they must currently endure before death. American horses deserve
But the American people deserve better treatment as well. Unfortunately, the Republican majority in Congress appears focused exclusively on issues which do little to improve the lives ofAmericans.
A few days ago, we celebrated Labor Day. Yet it is clear that people who work for a living have very little to celebrate. The minimum wage remains unchanged. Our constituents face ever-rising energy prices. Seniors continue to be burdened with high costs for prescription drugs. College graduates are saddled with debt. Other young people cannot afford to attend college at all. And nearly 5 years to the day after September 11, our Nation is still not secure.
These are some of the pressing and critical problems the American people deal with on a daily basis. Congress could easily devote an entire week to each issue, and yet we find ourselves procrastinating.
Instead of addressing these challenges that confront our constituents, real issues that impact real people, the majority has chosen to authorize commemorative coins. This Congress cannot bring itself to allow a clean vote to help hardworking Americans by raising the minimum wage, though not for lack of Democratic proposals to do so. My colleague, Congressman George Miller, has introduced a bill that will raise the minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade, and Congressman Hoyer's amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill will do the same.
Unfortunately, these sensible proposals to give working families a boost have either been stalled by the Republican leadership or loaded with poison pills to ensure that Americans go yet another year without a minimum wage increase. We owe it to the hardworking voters who send us to Washington to increase the minimum wage before we adjourn. Instead, the leadership has turned our attention to horses.
The majority also refuses to take action to combat skyrocketing energy costs. Democrats have advocated for an innovative and strategic national energy policy, one which rolls back tax breaks for oil companies and invests the savings in alternative fuel sources. Not only will such action lower energy costs over the long term, but it will also help our Nation break our dependence on foreign oil.
The American people deserve an energy policy that is responsible, innovative, and independent. Dozens of promising proposals for such a
policy have been introduced, proposals which could be brought to the
floor today. However, the leadership has decided instead to use one of
our few remaining legislative days to debate horses.
Even before this energy crisis, the steady rise in health costs
threatened to drive many middle-class families out of our health care
system altogether. Most of the 3 million people who have lost health
coverage since 2002 make over $50,000 per year, and some make over
$75,000 per year. This figure is frightening, for it indicates that
high insurance costs are affecting more and more Americans.
Additionally, seniors have already begun to hit the ``doughnut hole''
in the Medicare prescription drug program, which has forced them to
bear thousands of dollars in unexpected costs.
The Democratic plan for the future gives the Federal Government the
freedom to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. It also
provides millions of American families with urgently needed health
insurance. We owe it to our constituents to reform the health care
system to make it more affordable before we adjourn.
Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this Congress has done little to help
American seniors. Sadly, younger Americans have not fared much better.
The Republican leadership has left our Nation's students saddled with
ever-growing amounts of student loan debt.
Democrats have offered a new direction for higher education, centered
on expanding Pell grants and restoring the $12 billion in cuts to
student aid which Republicans passed earlier this year. This will ease
the debt burden for recent graduates and put the dream of a college
education within reach for more young Americans. We owe it to our
students and to the families who support them to increase tuition
assistance before we adjourn. However, the leadership has ignored this
opportunity to make higher education accessible and affordable.
Instead, the majority has decided to take another long weekend, with no
votes scheduled on Monday or Friday.
As we can see, the list of misplaced priorities in the 109th Congress
is long. However, perhaps none is as disappointing or as dangerous as
Congress's refusal to secure our homeland. The majority has refused to
fully implement all the recommendations of the September 11 commission.
In doing so, it has left unnecessary holes in national security and has
failed to fulfill its primary responsibility to ensure America's
Before we adjourn for the year, Congress must secure our borders, and
we must do more to protect our ports and airports. Democrats have
offered legislation to do so, legislation which will also provide our
first responders with the resources they need to respond to a terrorist
attack or other national emergency.
These proposals to protect American lives and families are on the
table, and Democrats stand ready to pass them with the help of our
Republican colleagues. And yet as we return from a month-long break, we
have been presented with a paper-thin legislative agenda. This week's
schedule illustrates how out of touch this Chamber's leadership is from
American families and the problems they face every day.
As a result, on the floor of the House of Representatives this week,
we will focus on improving the welfare of America's horses. What we
should be doing is improving the welfare of America's people.
My Democratic colleagues and I have offered a new direction, a plan
to raise the minimum wage, ease our reliance on foreign energy sources,
lower prescription drug prices, make college more affordable, and
strengthen our Nation's security to combat terrorists.
We will continue to fight to pass this package of urgent national
legislation, and we await the cooperation of Republican colleagues to
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to
the gentleman from New York (Mr. Sweeney), a prime author of this
(Mr. SWEENEY asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. SWEENEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the rule
and its underlying bill. But I do want to respond to my friends on the
and their comments about the appropriateness of this particular piece
of legislation, which I believe they support being on the floor here.
Since 1979, there have been efforts and attempts and a struggle to
bring this piece of legislation to the floor for open public debate so
that we can flush out the fact from the fiction.
And while I know and I believe over the next month we will be
debating a number of important issues, like border security, like
protecting this Nation, and our war on terror, this is a piece of
legislation that is long overdue and needs to be discussed and needs to
be disposed of in an appropriate fashion.
As author of the legislation, I have worked tirelessly to bring it to
the floor. What the bill does is it prohibits the shipping,
transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing,
selling or donation of horses or other equines for the slaughter for
It makes it impossible to do so in the United States but also
prohibits the transport to Canada and Mexico. And some might ask, why
is that important? Well, it is important for a number of reasons. The
first and foremost is that it is one of the most inhumane, brutal,
shady practices going on today in this Nation.
It is important because more than 70 percent of the American people,
at least every survey I have ever seen, support the notion that we
ought to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. It is
important because a substantial number of States have outlawed this
practice, yet because of a Federal court case, an injunction has been
obtained in which the court has essentially said, unless Congress acts,
this practice can go on despite the will of the people and the States
For years I had hoped for a fair and honest debate on this issue. We
have been thwarted in that effort until now. Each year, 90,000 horses
in the country are slaughtered and shipped overseas to Europe and Asia
where they are served in restaurants as a delicacy, not as a necessity.
I want this process stopped, and some of my colleagues in this chamber
This rule gives us the opportunity for that fair and open debate. I
want to thank the Rules Committee and its chairman, Mr. Dreier, for
that opportunity. However, I must stress that I have real concerns over
the seven amendments that are possibly going to be introduced in the
course of today's debate.
I have concerns about it, because they are being introduced by people
who have for a long time tried to stop this debate from happening in
the first instance, and, therefore, then I would suggest that every one
of these amendments are poison pills. Every one of these amendments are
intended for one thing, that is to continue this practice, a practice
that I do not want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, is subsidized by this
Now, last year, my good friend from Florida pointed out, last year we
passed with 269 votes an amendment in the ag appropriation bill that
said taxpayer dollars should not be used for something the American
people do not support in the first instance; should not be used to
subsidize and continue this process.
Despite passing that piece of legislation, the USDA and others
thwarted our efforts to have the right thing happen.
I would suggest to my colleagues that today we send a strong message:
We end this practice. And, yes, let's get on with the other business of
this House. But after many, many years, three decades of attempts, it
is about time we passed this legislation and ended this practice.
Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to my good friend, the
gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren).
Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, with energy costs at an
all-time high in the United States, climate change threatening the
future prosperity of our country and our planet, the Taliban regaining
control in Afghanistan, Iraq in meltdown, the U.S. saddled with the
largest debt in the history of the world, the real wages of average
Americans in decline, 42 million Americans without health care
insurance, and most of the 9/11 Commission recommendations to make
America safe still not implemented by this Congress, it is unbelievable
to me that we are spending this day on the horse meat bill.
Now I commute 3,000 miles from California to Washington to serve the
people, as we all do, to serve the people. And I am for the horsies,
too. I will vote for it. We could have done it by consent. We could
have done it on voice vote.
I cannot believe that we are here today using the very limited time
left to this Congress to deal with horse meat. Now, I hope that we can
come to our senses, that the Republican leadership in this House will
get a grip about what the American public needs us to do to serve their
interests, to make sure that they are secure, both from an economic
point of view, from international terrorism and to deal with the
terrible disaster that has become Iraq and the disaster that is growing
As I say, I am happy to vote for the horsie bill, but I am ashamed
that that is all we are doing here today.
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Mr. Goodlatte.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, H.R. 503 has not received the support of any House committee and was, in fact, ordered to be reported unfavorably to the floor with the recommendation that it not pass by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 37-3 of the Agriculture Committee. So, naturally, the Members of that committee are very sympathetic with those who do not want to hear this legislation today.
The committee rejected this legislation because it has real concerns that eliminating the option of humane euthanasia at horse-processing facilities will do undeniable harm to the welfare of the 90,000 unwanted horses per year that normally go this route. This rule makes in order several amendments that seek to correct some of the problems created by this bill.
Since H.R. 503 leaves so many questions unanswered, the amendments are the only means to provide solutions to the problems. What happens to those 90,000 horses? H.R. 503 provides no answer to that question. Will they be guaranteed a safe, healthy future by the passage of H.R. 503? Sadly, the answer is, no.
H.R. 503 provides no provisions for the welfare of these unwanted
horses. Proponents suggest that these 90,000 horses will not all
necessarily be absorbed by the rescue facilities but will instead be
sold to new owners or kept longer by their current owners. Many of the
horses received by these processing plants are traditionally
unserviceable, vivacious or behaviorally unacceptable in today's equine
Holding on to a dangerous horse presents a potentially dangerous
situation for the owner and his or her family. And selling the
dangerous horse to an unwitting buyer is irresponsible. Obviously, the
idea of sending a horse to a processing facility is not something any
of us would like to think about. But for certain horses, these
facilities, which are federally regulated with on-site U.S. Department
of Agriculture veterinarians and humane euthanasia and processing
conditions that are acceptable to the both the American Veterinary
Medical Association and the American Association of Equine
Practitioners provide a humane alternative to additional suffering or
possibly dangerous situations.
In order to ensure the welfare of these animals while they are alive,
it is imperative that all humane disposal options be available. A
responsible horse owner has the right to choose, and although we may
not agree, we need to respect that right.
H.R. 503 is a deceptive piece of legislation. Much of the
misinformation that surrounds this bill has led many to believe it will
accomplish things that it is not capable of achieving. Make no mistake
about it: H.R. 503 will not prevent horses from dying. Proponents note
that an alternative to sending the horses to processing facilities is
to put the horse down on the farm. Apparently, the alternative to death
is, well, death.
The euthanasia practices employed at the three U.S. processing
facilities meet the humane euthanasia guidelines of the American
Veterinary Medical Association, and the regulations established by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture for humane euthanasia.
The proponents of H.R. 503 are not arguing to keep horses alive or
maintain a standard of care to ensure the horse's welfare; they are
arguing about what happens to the meat once the animal has been
euthanized. Furthermore, the humane treatment of these horses is
regulated from the moment the decision is made to send the horse to the
The Commercial Transportation of Equine for Slaughter Act regulates
the transportation of the horses to the facility, preventing the
transport or euthanasia of injured horses. This bill raises many
questions about the welfare of horses but provides no solutions. If you
care about animal warfare, vote against H.R. 503. If you care about
horses, vote against this bill.
Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Rahall).
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, the rule governing the debate on H.R. 503 makes in order seven amendments, all but one of which were filed late, beyond the deadline for amendment submission with the Rules Committee.
What does this suggest? Normally, as we know, the Rules Committee isnot enthused with late-filed amendments. As I recall, the majority on the Rules Committee has even used this as an excuse to not make certain amendments in order.
So I think those of us on both sides of the aisle are being sent a signal here. And that message is that there is a concerted effort among some in power in this body to torpedo the pending legislation, H.R. 503, by gaining the adoption of nefarious and ill-conceived amendments that would simply gut the legislation. This is the hand that we are being dealt. And it is apparently the one that we must play.
With that said, I rise in support of the rule. I urge my colleagues, especially on my side of the aisle, to vote for it, so at the very least, we can have an open debate on the issue of horse slaughter in the United States, so that we can strive to keep hope alive.
Americans do not eat horse flesh. The concept is repugnant to most Americans. Yet the merchants of slaughter will have us believe that it is fine and dandy to slaughter our horses for the sole purpose, the sole purpose, of sending their flesh overseas to support some warped demand among foreign diners for horse meat on their menus.
Hear me and hear me now: America, the land of the brave and true, we are sending over 90,000 horses a year to slaughter. Stunned in the head if lucky, throats slit. Explain this to your children. Try to defend this to your constituents.
I hope my colleague will vote for the rule, demonstrate that we will stand up to the likes of those who slaughter our horses for profit and slaughter our horses for power.
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Whitfield), who has done so much to bring this legislation to the floor.
Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank the Rules
Committee for bringing this rule to the floor on this important issue.
I might say that the first legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress
to try to curtail the slaughter of American horses for human
consumption was back in the mid-1970s. And year after year after year
after year, the Ag Committee refused to take any action. They never had
a hearing. They did everything that they could do to defeat this bill
and to make sure that it never saw the light of day.
Well, today we have the opportunity to vote on this bill to have a
free and open discussion about the importance of this bill and to make
the American people recognize and realize that there are only three
slaughter plants in the U.S. operating where the horses are being
slaughtered for human consumption. Every one of them is owned by
foreign interests, by the Belgians, by the Dutch and by the French.
All of the meat is exported to Europe. Now, the Fort Worth newspaper today had an editorial opposed to this bill and what they said reflects the inaccuracy about this bill. They talked about how pet food is made
from horse meat. The truth of the matter is, the pet food associationhas not used horse meat for 12 years.
That is just one of the inaccuracies.
Horse slaughter is about a process. There are groups of killer buyers
around America who will obtain horses by any means possible, by theft,
Skye Dutcher, a young girl from New York, came to Washington just
yesterday to tell us the story about on her 12th birthday her horse was
stolen from her family's farm. A fellow took it to a killer buyer, and
he received $150. The killer buyer took it to the auction, and the
horse was taken to slaughter.
Judy Taylor, in my State of Kentucky, had two Appaloosas, and she had
cancer. She gave them to a friend who said, I will take care of them.
That friend sold them to a killer buyer. The killer buyer took them to
Beltex in Fort Worth, Texas, where they were slaughtered.
So the nasty part of this business is that so many horses are being
obtained illegally, and I know of very few industries in America today
where the products that they are using are obtained illegally.
We hear a lot about these unwanted horses and what are we going to do
with 90,000 horses that have not been slaughtered. I would say to you
that 12 years ago 300,000 horses were slaughtered each year. Today,
that number is down to 87,000 because the demand is going down. With
that kind of a drastic reduction, you would think there are a lot of
unwanted horses running around the country. Yet there is not one study
anywhere that indicates that there is an abundance of horses. In fact,
as I said, most of the horses that are being slaughtered are wanted.
The owners would love to have them back, but because of this process,
this is what is happening.
The State of Texas had a law on its books that made it illegal to use
horse meat for human consumption, to buy it or sell it or transport it.
They tried to shut down the slaughterhouses in Texas. The prosecutors
were getting ready to go to court, and the foreign owners filed a
lawsuit in Federal court. They won that lawsuit because the Federal
judge said this is about interstate commerce and the State of Texas
will be impeding interstate commerce by trying to shut these
So the only thing that we can do is if it is going to be changed,
Congress has to do it. That is what this bill is about today. H.R. 503
is on the floor because Congress wants to take action.
Every poll that has been taken on this issue, the American people
support the prohibition of slaughtering horses. Horses have never been
a part of the food chain. They are not like cattle. They are not like
pigs. They are not like goats. Those animals are raised for slaughter;
and when you take it to auction, you know where it is going to end up.
That is not the case with horses.
I think that this is going to be quite an interesting debate, a
worthwhile debate; and I want to thank the Rules Committee for giving
us this opportunity today.
Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, I would urge all Members to support the rule and the
underlying bill. Congress should do the right thing for America's
horses by ending the cruel practice of horse slaughter.
But, Mr. Speaker, there are a larger set of priorities which must be
addressed. The American worker deserves an increase in the minimum
wage, and our Nation's seniors deserve lower prescription drug prices.
Almost 5 years after September 11, failing to secure America's ports
and airports is unconscionable.
Democrats are committed to staying here until these priorities are
accomplished. I would urge all my colleagues to join us in this effort.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I also yield back the
balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.
The previous question was ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the resolution.
The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that
the ayes appeared to have it.
Mr. SWEENEY. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were -- yeas 351, nays 40, not voting 41, as follows:
[Roll No. 430]
Davis, Jo Ann
Johnson, E. B.
Lungren, Daniel E.
Sanchez, Linda T.
Announcement by the Speaker Pro Tempore
The SPEAKER pro tempore (during the vote). Members are advised there
are 2 minutes remaining in this vote.
Messrs. PETERSON of Minnesota, POMEROY, and KENNEDY of Rhode Island
changed their vote from ``yea'' to ``nay.''
Mr. MEEHAN changed his vote from ``nay'' to ``yea.''
So the resolution was agreed to.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
Mr. JOHNSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, due to circumstances beyond my
control on Thursday, September 7, 2006, I regrettably missed the vote
on H. Res. 981, a bill providing for consideration of H.R. 503, the
Horse Protection Act.
H. Res. 981 presents a reasonable rule that made several amendments
in order, and allowed adequate time to have a full and fair debate on
the underlying bill.
In turn, I would have voted ``yea'' on H. Res. 981, so that we could
begin to consider the underlying provisions of H.R. 503.
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. Speaker, earlier today, I was unavoidably detained
and missed one rollcall vote. Had I been present, I would have voted
``yea'' on rollcall vote No. 430.
Mr. MURPHY. Mr. Speaker, on rollcall No. 430, had I been present, I
would have voted ``yea.''