End Cockfighting Press Release

House Rules Committee Advances Animal Protection Amendments

Animal Wellness Action and Animal Wellness Foundation Pushing Enforcement of Our Federal Anti-cruelty and Conservation Laws

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House Committee on Rules made three pro-animal protection amendments to H.R. 3055 in order, allowing each to proceed to the House floor for consideration. The amendments have broad bipartisan support and seek to dedicate funding to enforcement of our federal anti-cruelty laws and stop imports of sport-hunted trophies from elephants and African lions from range states where they are imperiled.  The House of Representatives is expected to begin voting on H.R. 3055 as early as today.

“Without enforcement, our laws are nothing but words,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at Animal Wellness Action. “At a time when Americans are polarized on so many issues, one thing we all agree on is that the cruelty inherent in staged animal fights is abhorrent and the laws must be vigorously enforced.”

“The U.S. House can send a strong message to the International community by approving the Buchanan-Huffman amendment to bar the import of sport-hunted trophies from threatened African lions and African elephants,” said Penny Eastman, deputy director of federal affairs at Animal Wellness Action. “These species have experienced catastrophic declines in their numbers across a large portion of their range, and U.S. policy should encourage their protection, not their killing for their tusks and manes.”

Amendment # 85 instructs the Department of Justice to use $2 million from the Legal Activities account to enforce animal welfare crimes. The amendment is 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 instructs 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, the Crush Video law, and the Animal Welfare Act. The DOJ and USDA must actively enforce federal laws, and failure to do so puts vulnerable animals and communities in serious danger.

Amendment #116 provides $1 million dollars for the enforcement of the animal fighting law through the USDA’s Office of Inspector General. The amendment is 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). The 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 dogfighting and cockfighting, including in the U.S. territories.

Amendment # 133 prevents funding for issuance of import permits by USFWS for elephant or lion trophies from Tanzania, Zambia, or Zimbabwe. The amendment is sponsored by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Jared Huffman (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Ted Lieu (D-CA). African elephants and African lions are listed as threatened or endangered across their range in Africa, and they are already subject to a range of human-caused threats that have dramatically reduced their numbers. The United States does not allow trophy hunting of ESA-listed species inhabiting the U.S. and our federal regulatory actions should not enable trophy hunting of foreign-listed species.

Each of these three amendments to H.R. 3055, are championed by Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation, are advocating on Capitol Hill to ensure that animals have a voice in the U.S. Congress.

Other amendments not made in order include efforts to weaken protections for grizzly bears, gray wolves, and sage grouse, and efforts to prevent federal agencies from regulating the discharge of lead ammunition into our environment and methane from cows.

H.R. 3055 includes five FY 2020 spending bills: Commerce-Justice-Science, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

The advancement of these amendments comes on the heels of the announcement made yesterday by Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation regarding the establishment of the Animal Wellness National Law Enforcement Council (NLEC) co-chaired by former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and former Oregon District Attorney Josh Marquis.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News