America's Effort to End Horse Slaughter
Part Three of a Series
Senate Anti-Slaughter Activities
In the Senate, Senators
John Ensign (R-NV) and
Robert Byrd (D-WV) introduced a floor amendment similar to the one Congressmen Sweeney and Spratt had introduced in the House.
By this time thousands of American citizens had weighed in, sending letters, phone calls and emails to their legislators in Washington, D.C. The Ensign - Byrd amendment passed by a significant bipartisan margin of 68 to 29.
However, the battle was far from over.
The way laws get passed in Congress is sometimes complex. The House of Representatives will pass its version of a bill, then the Senate will pass its version of a bill. Since the language contained in these versions is seldom exactly the same, a Senate-House Conference Committee is established to reconcile such differences so that the wording of the final bill being sent to the President for signature is agreeable to both houses.
However in some instances some unscrupulous politicians will use the Conference Committee as a "behind closed doors" tool to not reconcile, but actually remove language these individuals don't like, even though the majority of Senators and Congressmen have voted and approved such language. Once again a small handful of individuals can usurp the will of Congress.
This strategy was undertaken to attack the effort to stop horse slaughter. (More discussion on the Conference Committee activities follow in this report, meanwhile another Senator had also weighed in on this issue.)
Senator Reid's Bill
While all this other business was taking place, Senator
Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced
S.1273, a bill he touted as being "To restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros. " However when one actually read the content of the bill it was nothing more than a rerun of a failed 1980s experiment known as "fee waiver." Fee waiver resulted in thousands of horses being sent to slaughter.
Senator Reid also submitted with his bill that he was doing so in behalf of himself and Senator
John Ensign (R-NV). Senator Ensign immediately distanced himself from Senator Reid's legislation.
(For several years Senator Reid has taken anti-wild horse posiitons. Furthermore, Senator Burns insists that his controversial rider was submitted with the consent of Senator Reid. Some of Senator Reid's prior actions were recorded in the KBR Wild Horse & Burro News article,
Nevada Senator Takes Sword to BLM, July, 1998.)
After an outpouring of concern on the part of horse advocates across the country, Senator Reid's bill languished for lack of a single cosponsor.
Back on the issue of anti-slaughter legislation, the battle lines were being drawn in the Conference Committee. The actions that subsequently took place are described in Part Four.