By Fran Jurga | 19 February 2009 | The Jurga Report
Has the nationwide obsession with the economy (Just how poor am I? I dunno...how poor are you?) pushed some other close-to-the-heart issues to the back burner?
A press release published today in Washington informs us that US Representatives Jim Moran (D-VA) and Elton Gallegly (R-CA) will co-chair the newly formed "Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC)," a bipartisan organization committed to raising awareness of animal welfare issues in Congress. CAPC replaces the Friends of Animals Caucus that existed in previous Congresses.
The press release says that, through non-partisan forums and briefings, CAPC will seek to highlight important issues affecting animals and upcoming animal welfare legislation. CAPC will also track the progress of relevant legislation, provide members of Congress with dependable information, and attempt to build broad coalitions in support of common-sense, humane animal welfare laws.
In the 110th Congress, the old caucus was instrumental in the passing tougher animal fighting legislation, and tightening animal welfare regulations in the 2008 Farm Bill. Priorities for the 111th Congress include beefing up legislation banning the slaughter of horses.
Meanwhile, west of the Beltway, some states--make that quite a few states--are initiating states-rights or "home rule" resolutions that could possibly lead to legalized horse slaughter in certain states. Whether the slaughter they would like to usher in is for meat export purposes is not clear; much of the legislation in Washington has been specific to slaughtering horses for meat, so rendering-type slaughterhouses might find some loopholes.
Another loophole that may be open is "on the hook" export of horse carcasses, as is done in England, where export of horse meat, per se, was stopped by law.
According to an article in Monday's Salt Lake Tribune, Utah is leading the pack of the "horse slaughter resolve" states, while action is already in process in the states of Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Wyoming, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Montana.
Utah's HJR7 voices the state's approval of the export of horses for slaughter and has passed the House and Senate; the nonbinding position statement will be sent to the White House, the U.S. Senate and House and Utah's congressional delegation.
Blogger's note: To refresh your memory, President Obama was one of the sponsors of anti-horse slaughter legislation in the Senate that led to the closing of foreign-owned US horse meat processing plants. And the recently impeached governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was hailed as a hero when he signed the order to close the DeKalb slaughter complex in that state in 2007. Blagojevich's role in anti-horse slaughter legislation was generally overlooked in the controversy over his impeachment.
Now that Obama and Blagojevich have moved on (or up, or out, as the case may be), slaughter advcates are obviously losing no time reversing things in that state.
An upcoming vote by the American Quarter Horse Association on March 9 adds to the slaughter story: slaughterhouse by-products include uteruses from slaughtered mares that required for cloning cultures. A plentiful supply of viable uteruses is critical to the cloning industry and adds to the complexity of both the horse slaughter and cloning debates, much as does the medical use of human stem cells from warehoused embryos in the abortion debate.
If I had a crystal ball, I think I would be able to see the stately columns of the US Supreme Court shining in its depths when I ask it where the horse slaughter debate is headed.