This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for the debate of H.R. 1018, legislation aimed at preventing roundups during which horses and burros were mistreated, promoting adoption of wild horses and burros who are taken off the range, and banning their sale or transfer for their processing into commercial products by the Bureau of Land Management.
Rep. McGovern (D-MA), who was leading support for the rule setting the terms for debate of the legislation, described the goal of H.R. 1018 as restoring “important protections for wild horses and burros.” The Republican minority had been expressing its strong opposition to the fact that the rules for a series of bills, including this one, limited the number of amendments that could be offered. McGovern claimed that “(R)epublican and Democratic amendments were offered and accepted through the regular order.” Under House procedures, before a bill can be considered, the House must first approve a resolution or rule setting the terms for consideration of the bill, including the number of amendments that may be offered.
Rep. Foxx (R-NC), was leading the opposition to the rule and also opposed the underlying legislation for which the rule set conditions for consideration. Foxx characterized that legislation as “a $700 million welfare program for wild horses”, and said that it was being brought up “at a time when more than 2 million Americans have lost their jobs since the Democrats' $1 trillion stimulus bill became law and that it is somewhat of an insult to those people.” McGovern answered by arguing that “this bill will have no cost.”
Foxx added: “(W)e have a 9.5 percent unemployment rate and a budget deficit of more than $1 trillion which is predicted to go to $2 trillion before the end of the fiscal year. Given those facts, it's a little unclear to know what exactly are the priorities of the Democrats in charge of this Congress.” Referring to the fact that the bill protecting wild horses and burros had nothing to do with the ongoing economic crisis, Foxx argued: “(T)his is just another example of how out of touch Washington Democrats are . . . I hardly think this is what the American people expect us to be doing these days as they face the many challenges that they're facing.” McGovern said, “in response to (Rep. Foxx’) question about what the Democratic priorities are, they are to create jobs, they are to pass an energy bill to create more jobs, and to deal with climate change. Our priorities include passing a health care bill that will lower the cost of health care for average Americans.”
Rep. Rahall (D-WV), the Chairman of the House National Resources Committee that developed the legislation responded to Rep. Foxx’ remarks by saying that the committee takes very seriously its responsibility as stewards of American’s animals, which he said “are important responsibilities that the American people value . . . .” Rep. Foxx countered that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that “we don't believe in growing government.” She said that the subjects of the legislation “are not the things the Federal Government should be about. The Federal Government should confine itself to the very narrow set of issues laid out for us in the Constitution . . . which says that if it isn't mentioned in the Constitution, then it's a province of the States . . . .”
Rep. King (R-IA) opposed the rule and the bill, claiming that the legislation was “driven by the Human Society of the United States. They have hundreds of millions of dollars, and they have an agenda. They are seeking to take meat off the plates of the American people and all around the globe. So we just dance to this tune in this Congress because they say so.” Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) noted that, in several western states, there are “Indian tribes who have a vested interest in the management interest of the horse and burros. For the Democrats to actually deny us an opportunity to allow Native Americans to be represented on the board (overseeing the horses and burros) is just ridiculous”
The resolution passed by a vote of 236-186. Two hundred and thirty-two Democrats and four Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and sixth-six Republicans and twenty Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to take up the legislation protecting wild horses and burros.