What: All Issues : Environment : Prohibition on the sale of wild horses for meat (H.R. 249)/On passage (2007 house Roll Call 269)
 Who: All Members
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Prohibition on the sale of wild horses for meat (H.R. 249)/On passage
house Roll Call 269     Apr 26, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win
Qualifies as polarizing?
Yes
Is this vote crucial?
No

This was the final vote on an a bill to prohibit the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from selling for meat horses that roam wildly on federal lands or currently are in federal holding facilities.

Under current law, the bureau can sell wild horses that have been offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least three times or are over 10 years old for $10 per animal. The provision was put into place through an amendment sneaked into a 2005 appropriations bill by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).

In 2006, 100,000 horses were slaughtered for consumption, mostly to be shipped overseas.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) made an impassioned plea for the wild horses in the United States, calling them a symbol of the American spirit and the American West. According to Moran, at the turn of the 20th century, some 2 million roamed free. By the 1950s, their population dwindled to fewer than 20,000 due to poaching for pet food and human consumption in Europe and Asia.

"I believe that a generation from now we will shudder at how recklessly we treated these animals which are so symbolic of the spirit, the strength, the stamina of this country. In the event of survival, so many of them face neglect and abuse today, and that is the argument that is raised," Moran said. "But that is not an excuse not to pass this legislation nor to implement a more humane policy, because this policy is inhumane at every step in the process, from how they're purchased at auction, to their transportation to the slaughterhouse, to how they are killed."

Republicans and some Western Democrats countered that excess horse populations are causing significant environmental damage. "Even conservation groups such as the National Association of Conservation Districts, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Izaak Walton League, and a number of others have acknowledged the damage caused by this overpopulation of horses," Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho). "Balanced management, respecting recreation, watersheds, wildlife and grazing must be restored to the public lands where these horses roam."

Eighty-two Republicans broke party ranks and voted for the bill, more than making up for the 24 Democratic defectors. Thus, by a final vote of 277 to 137, legislation to ban the sale of wild horses to be slaughtered for meat easily passed the House. The legislation then moved to the Senate.

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