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U.S. House Passes PAST Act


2019/08/07

On Thursday July 25, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by a vote of 333 to 96. The measure seeks to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and end the torturous, painful practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses. The intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses’ hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick,” soring has plagued the equine world for six decades.

“I am pleased the House passed the PAST Act with strong bipartisan support today,” said U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “This legislation will close loopholes that enable the cruel practice of “soring” horses. I thank Rep. Schrader for being a champion of animal welfare issues and building on the legacy of my late friend, Senator Tydings. I urge Senator McConnell to take up this bipartisan legislation without delay.”

“Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books for decades banning this cruel practice,” saidRep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR). “We gave folks a chance to self-police, but the abusive behaviors continued. The bill that was passed today will strengthen and improve current regulations by improving USDA enforcement, increasing civil and criminal penalties, and banning incentives to sore horses. This is a historic day and I am grateful for my colleagues who worked tirelessly to get this legislation across the finish line and for our equine athletes who provide us with inspiration and pleasure.”

“As a veterinarian and lover of animals, it is time we end the inhumane practice of horse soring. I want to thank House Leadership for bringing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act up for a vote today and my colleague and fellow veterinarian Rep. Kurt Schrader for championing this bill with me over the years,” saidRep. Ted Yoho (R-FL). “The walking horse industry had plenty of time to self-police and change their ways, but they decided to press on. They have failed to take advantage of this opportunity and now it is time for horse soring to end.”

“The natural gait of the Tennessee Walking Horse is a wonder to behold and has long been revered by horse lovers,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), an original sponsor of the PAST Act. “The practice of soring—burning, cutting, lacerating—these beautiful creatures just to exaggerate their gate and win shows is beyond reprehensible.  I am so pleased that more than 300 House members are sponsoring The PAST Act. How we treat animals is a reflection of our national character. Today, we can be proud that the House has spoken loudly on behalf of the horses and those who love horses.” 

The PAST Act would ban the use of painful large stacked shoes and ankle chains and would also eliminate the existing system of self-regulation by the industry and toughen penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act. It is supported by Animal Wellness Action, the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sheriff’s Association, and Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association.

The PAST Act has been blocked for years by a handful of well-placed lawmakers, but a new House rule triggering consideration of any measure that attracts 290 or more cosponsors brought the issue to the floor.  The PAST Act attracted 308 cosponsors, and was led by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, along with Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ron Estes (R-KS), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Chris Collins (R-NY).

View a list of the Roll Call Votes on this bill at: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2019/roll510.xml
Tennessee Representatives voting against the PAST Act included Charles Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlais, David Kustoff, John W. Rose, Mark Green, and Phil Roe.

Tennessee Representatives who voted for the PAST act were: Steve Cohen, Tim Burchett, and Jim Cooper.
U.S. Representatives from Mississippi voting against the PAST Act were: Trent Kelly and Steven Palazzo.
U.S. Representatives from Mississippi voting for the PAST Act were: Bennie Thompson and Michael Guest
U.S. Representatives from Arkansas voting for the PAST Act were: Rick Crawford and French Hill.
U.S. Representatives from Arkansas voting against the PAST Act were: Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman.
U.S. Representatives from Kentucky voting for the PAST Act were: John Yarmuth.
U.S. Representatives from Kentucky voting against the PAST Act were: James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers, and Andy Barr.
U.S. Representatives from Alabama voting for the PAST Act were: Terri Sewell.
U.S. Representatives from Alabama voting against the PAST Act were: Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, and Gary Palmer.

Senate Bill

The Senate companion bill S.1007 is led by U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA), and has garnered 41 cosponsors. Of these 41 cosponsors, none are from mid-south states. View the list of Senate cosponsors at:  https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1007/cosponsors?q=%7B%22search%22:[%22warner%22]%7D&pageSort=lastToFirst

The Senate opposition bill, introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) – S. 1455 Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2019 – has only 3 cosponsors: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Paul Rand (R-KY). It was introduced on 5/14/19 and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Read information about the bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1455/
 
In June, 2019 William Wade, Ph.D., Agricultural Economist, published an article in the Tennessean stating that U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn had cited spurious economic impacts to support their bill. Wade cited Alexander’s May 14 press release, which claimed that “the [Tennessee Walking Horse] industry supports more than 20,000 jobs nationwide and pumps $3.2 billion into the nation’s economy.” 

Wade said that these numbers are unsupported by any study of economic impacts and that “big lick” show walking horses “are a small fraction of all Tennessee Walking Horses.

These numbers may come from testimony by Tennessee Agricultural Commissioner Julius Johnson in Nov.  2013, before a U.S. House of Representatives Committee. Then he reported then that the total impact of the state’s entire equine industry was $1.4 billion and 20,309 jobs created.

In reporting this, Johnson cited a 2010 study by University of Tennessee agricultural economists: R. Jamey Menard, et al., “Tennessee Equine Industry: Overview and Estimated Economic Impacts.” Their study was based another survey of all Tennessee horse breeds: Debra Kenerson and Joel Moore, 2004. “A Tennessee Tradition, Equine 2004,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Agricultural Statistics.

Menard’s economic impacts of showing horses were based on an estimate of expenditures at Alabama horse shows in 2005 reported in a 2006 Auburn study of showing horses: K. Whiting, Joseph J. Molnar and Cynthia   Ann McCall, “Alabama Equine Industry: Inventory, Impacts, and Prospects,” Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 662.

The $3.2 billion gross national product economic impact for Tennessee Walking Horses springs from a 2013 lobby packet created by the Performance Show Horse Association. That document asserts a $3.2 billion loss to the national economy associated with the 2013 proposed anti-soring legislation with no supporting research

Wade concludes: “Our two senators reported spurious results unsupported by economic research.”

Read Wade’s full article at: https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2019/06/20/senators-relying-spurious-tennessee-walking-horse-economic-data/1512241001/

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