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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:

  • When the amendment reaches the Senate, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations interior subcommittee, plans "to throw it out."

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

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