Prohibition on the sale of wild horses for meat (H.R. 249)/Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) amendment to prohibit the legislation from going into effect unless its cost would be offset elsewhere in the budget
house Roll Call 267 Apr 26, 2007
This vote was on an amendment to 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. Proposed by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the amendment would prohibit the legislation from going into effect unless its cost would be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.
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.).
Price said that without his amendment the legislation would cause the bureau to "lose the minimal revenue it is currently able to generate from the sale of the animals and incur additional costs by requiring it to provide long-term care for the animals that they otherwise wouldn't have to, essentially, by mandating a new responsibility."
According to Price, it costs BLM roughly $25 million a year to feed and shelter roughly 30,000 wild horses in its management program. In 2006, 100,000 horses were slaughtered for consumption, mostly to be shipped overseas. Price said his amendment was a "simple" pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) mandate that required the legislation to be revenue neutral for the federal government.
Democrats said Price's amendment was out of line on the grounds that the underlying legislation "neither authorizes nor contains any spending," the usual grounds to trigger PAYGO rules.
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said that the bill would merely return the law to the way it existed for 33 years before Burns got it changed without a hearing. Rahall added that both the Congressional Budget Office as well as the House Budget Committee "determined that there are no PAYGO implications with H.R. 249."
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) pointed out that Price's amendment was simply a way to gut the bill, and that "the reality is that this is not a bill that costs the Treasury money, but it does cost our country something of great value."
Moran went on to detail the history of wild horses in the United States: 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."
In the end, Price's proposal was easily defeated, with seventeen Republicans joining all but six Democrats in voting against it. Thus, by a vote of 186 to 238, the House rejected an amendment to require a bill to ban the slaughter of wild horses for meat to be revenue-neutral as a condition for enactment, and the legislation moved forward without the restriction.
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