Rahall / Whitfield Wild Horse Amendment Passes
This report was written by Willis Lamm, LRTC Wild Horse Mentors, who is solely responsible for its content.
Congress, by 90 votes, passed the Rahall / Whitfield amendment that prohibited use of Federal funds for the sale and slaughter of protected wild horses and burros. Although it may not seem so to those folks whose ideas are stuck in the last century, this was not just a win for the wild horses. It was also a win for Nevada and Nevada's agricultural industry.
First off, the moderates were able to carry the day. Moderate wild horse groups recognize the need to maintain healthy ranges, the multiple use doctrine that allows for the range to be used for reasonable agricultural purposes, and that the range does require management. Moderates on the other side of the equation recognize that it is a risky business for Nevada's public lands ranchers to alienate the millions of citizens who want to see wild horses protected and who also constitute their very market.
The issues surrounding wild horses are clearly ones where emotions need to be replaced by common sense and logic.
The current crisis specifically evolved regarding what to do with the backlog of horses gathered by BLM that were standing in long term holding facilities. BLM has publicly stated that holding horses is not a problem for them. BLM even predicted that soon the numbers of horses being gathered will be substantially less than adoption demand and this backlog will diminish on its own. However Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) slipped a last minute stealth rider into last year's omnibus spending bill that required BLM to sell around 8,400 horses without limitation and that set off a firestorm.
Wild horse groups correctly charged that the Burns rider was an enticement for folks to make a quick buck off of discounted federally subsidized horses and that some would end up at slaughter. BLM correctly stated that under the new law they did not have the authority to tell any buyers what to do with their horses, for once they were sold the animals were private property. The beef councils and politicians did their usual posturing. 41 horses ended up at the Cavel International Slaughterhouse and Secretary of Interior Gale Norton put the brakes on "sale authority."
Congressmen Nick Rahall and Ed Whitfield had previously submitted H.R. 297, a bill that would rescind the Burns rider. It wasn't that they wanted to see horses stand around in long term holding facilities. They knew that any law that directed BLM to sell horses should be crafted with appropriate safeguards. Buyers would have to accept the terms of these safeguards or not take the animals. Their bill languished in Congressman Richard Pombo's (R-CA) Natural Resources Committee.
On April 19th Congressmen Rahall and Whitfield introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill that simply stated that appropriated funds could not be used for the sale and slaughter of protected wild horses and burros. Enough was enough.
On the eve of the amendment two interesting things happened. BLM Director Kathleen Clarke suddenly prepared an announcement that BLM had revised the requirements for sale authority and it would resume. According to a BLM statement, "What this essentially does is make more pointed what our expectations are and raises the level of accountability of the buyer." These new "requirements," involved the very language that for six months BLM's own lawyers said was not legally enforceable. Many regarded Clarke's new requirements as being little more than window dressing.
Simultaneously Congressman Pombo's office started distributing a hit piece to the other members of Congress, "Rahall/Whitfield Wild Horse and Burro Amendment Moot."
Nevada's Congressman Jim Gibbons produced his own dog and pony show. Dr. Andrew Lang of the national ASPCA said, "I turned on the TV to hear Gibbons lying like a rug. Three people on the other side had huge pictures of skinny horses to go with their cries of, 'The horses are eating everything and starving!' (Isn't that sort of a contradiction?)"
At the end of the day cooler heads did prevail. The amendment passed by 90 votes.
We now have a chance at a "do over." What we need now is for everyone to drop the hyperbole, start thinking rationally, look at the big picture, recognize the public's overwhelming interest in wild horses and produce real solutions for the range and for the animals in long term holding corrals. These programs can be run to the benefit of wild horses, agriculture, and the public. Replace traditional posturing with some sound science, common sense and honesty and we might be on our way to a fair and long lasting resolution.
This is just the first of many hurdles that have to be passed in order to restore sensible protections for wild horses.
Immediately after the amendment passed the following wire story appeared:
Thursday's success was primarily due to the incredible dedication and hard work of the allied wild horse groups and the persistence of the thousands of individual wild horse advocates who diligently phoned and wrote their representatives in Congress. And we have to also give credit to the many celebrities who went on the record supporting our wild horses. Cudos to you all!
To view a transcript of the amendment hearing, please Click Here.
For those of you who are communicating with your legislators, attached is an official tally of the votes cast. Please compliment your Representative if he/she voted as you wished, and communicate your displeasure if he/she didn't. Contact information for Members of Congress can be obtained at www.house.gov.
109 1st U.S. House of Representatives 196 H R 2361 On Agreeing to the Amendment 16 Rahall of West Virginia Amendment RECORDED VOTE Agreed to 19-May-2005 7:37 PM Party Ayes Noes Answrd Not Voting Republican 78 140 0 12 Democratic 170 19 0 13 Independent 1 0 0 0 Totals 249 159 0 25 Abercrombie No Ackerman Aye Aderholt Aye Akin No Alexander No Allen Aye Andrews Aye Baca Aye Bachus No Baird Aye Baker No Baldwin Aye Barrett (SC) No Barrow Not Voting Bartlett (MD) Aye Barton (TX) Aye Bass Aye Bean Aye Beauprez No Becerra Aye Berkley Aye Berman Aye Berry Aye Biggert Aye Bilirakis Aye Bishop (GA) Aye Bishop (NY) Aye Bishop (UT) No Blackburn No Blumenauer Aye Blunt No Boehlert No Boehner No Bonilla No Bonner No Bono Aye Boozman Aye Boren No Boswell No Boucher Aye Boustany No Boyd No Bradley (NH) Aye Brady (PA) Aye Brady (TX) No Brown (OH) Not Voting Brown (SC) No Brown, Corrine Aye Brown-Waite No Burgess Aye Burton (IN) No Butterfiel Aye Buyer No Calvert No Camp No Cannon No Cantor No Capito Aye Capps Aye Capuano Aye Cardin Aye Cardoza No Carnahan Aye Carson Aye Carter No Case Aye Castle Aye Chabot Aye Chandler No Chocola No Clay Not Voting Cleaver Aye Clyburn Aye Coble No Cole (OK) No Conaway No Conyers Aye Cooper Aye Costa No Costello Aye Cox No Cramer Aye Crenshaw No Crowley Aye Cubin No Cuellar Aye Culberson Not Voting Cummings Aye Cunningham Aye Davis (AL) Aye Davis (CA) Aye Davis (FL) No Davis (IL) Aye Davis (KY) No Davis (TN) Aye Davis, Jo Ann Aye Davis, Tom Aye Deal (GA) Aye DeFazio Aye DeGette Aye Delahunt Aye DeLauro Aye DeLay No Dent Aye Diaz-Balart, L. Aye Diaz-Balart, M. Aye Dicks Aye Dingell No Doggett Aye Doolittle No Doyle Aye Drake No Dreier Aye Duncan No Edwards Aye Ehlers Aye Emanuel Aye Emerson No Engel Aye English (PA) Aye Eshoo Aye Etheridge Aye Evans Aye Everett Aye Farr Aye Fattah Aye Feeney No Ferguson Aye Filner Aye Fitzpatrick Aye Flake No Foley Aye Forbes Aye Ford Aye Fortenberry No Fossella Aye Foxx No Frank (MA) Not Voting Franks (AZ) Aye Frelinghuysen Aye Gallegly Aye Garrett (NJ) No Gerlach Not Voting Gibbons No Gilchrest No Gillmor No Gingrey No Gohmert No Gonzalez Aye Goode Aye Goodlatte No Gordon Aye Granger No Graves No Green (WI) Aye Green, Al Aye Green, Gene Aye Grijalva Aye Gutierrez Aye Gutknecht No Hall Aye Harman Not Voting Harris Aye Hart No Hastings (FL) Aye Hastings (WA) No Hayes No Hayworth Aye Hefley No Hensarling No Herger No Herseth Aye Higgins Aye Hinchey Aye Hinojosa Not Voting Hobson Aye Hoekstra No Holden Aye Holt Aye Honda Aye Hooley Aye Hostettler Aye Hoyer Aye Hulshof No Hunter No Hyde Aye Inglis (SC) No Inslee Aye Israel Aye Issa Aye Istook No Jackson (IL) Aye Jackson-Lee Not Voting Jefferson Aye Jenkins No Jindal No Johnson (CT) No Johnson (IL) Aye Johnson, E. B. Aye Johnson, Sam No Jones (NC) Aye Jones (OH) Aye Kanjorski Aye Kaptur Aye Keller Aye Kelly Aye Kennedy (MN) Aye Kennedy (RI) Aye Kildee Aye Kilpatrick (MI) Aye Kind Aye King (IA) No King (NY) Aye Kingston No Kirk Aye Kline No Knollenberg No Kolbe No Kucinich Aye Kuhl (NY) Aye LaHood No Langevin Aye Lantos Aye Larsen (WA) Aye Larson (CT) Not Voting Latham No LaTourette Not Voting Leach Not Voting LeeAye Levin Aye Lewis (CA) No Lewis (GA) Not Voting Lewis (KY) No Linder Aye Lipinski Aye LoBiondo Aye Lofgren, Zoe Aye Lowey Aye Lucas Not Voting Lungren, Daniel No Lynch Not Voting Mack No Maloney Aye Manzullo No Marchant Not Voting Markey Aye Marshall No Matheson No Matsui Aye McCarthy Aye McCaul (TX) Aye McCollum (MN) Aye McCotter Aye McCrery No McDermott Aye McGovern Aye McHenry No McHugh Aye McIntyre No McKeon No McKinney Aye McMorris No McNulty Aye Meehan Aye Meek (FL) Aye Meeks (NY) Aye Melancon No Menendez Aye Mica No Michaud Aye Mlndr-McDonald Not Voting Miller (FL) No Miller (MI) Aye Miller (NC) Aye Miller, Gary No Miller, George Aye Mollohan Aye Moore (KS) Aye Moore (WI) Aye Moran (KS) No Moran (VA) Not Voting Murphy Aye Murtha Aye Musgrave No Myrick Aye Nadler Aye Napolitano Aye Neal (MA) Aye Neugebauer No Ney No Northup No Norwood Aye Nunes No Nussle No Oberstar No Obey Aye Olver Aye Ortiz Aye Osborne No Otter No Owens Aye Oxley No Pallone Aye Pascrell Aye Pastor Aye Paul Not Voting Payne Aye Pearce No Pelosi Aye Pence Aye Peterson (MN) No Peterson (PA) No Petri No Pickering No Pitts Aye Platts Aye Poe Not Voting Pombo No Pomeroy No Porter No Price (GA) No Price (NC) Aye Pryce (OH) No Putnam No Radanovich Not Voting Rahall Aye Ramstad Aye Rangel Aye Regula No Rehberg No Reichert No Renzi No Reyes Aye Reynolds Aye Rogers (AL) No Rogers (KY) No Rogers (MI) Aye Rohrabacher No Ros-Lehtinen Aye Ross No Rothman Aye Roybal-Allard Aye Royce No Ruppersberger Aye Rush Aye Ryan (OH) Aye Ryan (WI) No Ryun (KS) No Sabo No Salazar No Sanchez, Linda Aye Sanchez, Lrta Aye Sanders Aye Saxton Aye Schakowsky Aye Schiff Aye Schwartz (PA) Aye Schwarz (MI) No Scott (GA) Aye Scott (VA) Aye Sensenbrenner No Serrano Aye Sessions No Shadegg No Shaw Aye Shays Not Voting Sherman Aye Sherwood No Shimkus No Shuster No Simmons Aye Simpson No Skelton Aye Slaughter Aye Smith (NJ) Aye Smith (TX) No Smith (WA) Aye Snyder Aye Sodrel No Solis Aye Souder No Spratt Aye Stark Aye Stearns No Strickland Not Voting Stupak Aye Sullivan No Sweeney Aye Tancredo Not Voting Tanner Aye Tauscher Aye Taylor (MS) Aye Taylor (NC) No Terry No Thomas No Thompson (CA) Aye Thompson (MS) Aye Thornberry No Tiahrt No Tiberi No Tierney Aye Towns Aye Turner Aye Udall (CO) Aye Udall (NM) Aye Upton Aye Van Hollen Aye Velazquez Aye Visclosky Aye Walden (OR) No Walsh No Wamp Aye Wasserman Aye Waters Aye Watson Aye Watt Aye Waxman Aye Weiner Aye Weldon (FL) No Weldon (PA) Aye Weller Aye Westmoreland No Wexler Aye Whitfield Aye Wicker No Wilson (NM) Aye Wilson (SC) No Wolf No Woolsey Aye Wu Aye Wynn Aye Young (AK) Not Voting Young (FL) Aye