U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s, R-Fla., efforts to ban slaughtering horses for humans consumption continue to gain steam on Capitol Hill.
On Thursday, Buchanan announced his "Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act" had garnered 150 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. The proposal, which would end slaughtering horses for human consumption in the U.S. and stop exporting horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, also has a companion measure in the U.S. Senate. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, introduced the Senate companion earlier this month.
“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that must end,” Buchanan said on Thursday. “We need to build on this momentum and get this bill signed into law.”
The Manatee County Republican noted that killing horses for human consumption was currently banned by federal law but Buchanan pointed out that the law was temporary and his bill would make that ban permanent. Buchanan’s proposal has won the support the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The bill is currently before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. Ten members of the Florida delegation--Republican U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Dennis Ross and Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel. Alcee Hastings, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz--are co-sponsoring the bill.
Buchanan, who has been honored by the Humane Society, has focused on animal welfare issues in recent years. Back in October, he teamed up with U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-NM, to urge the Interior Department to end plans to exterminate or sell more than 45,000 wild horses.
The Bradenton congressman has also been active in trying to keep manatees covered under the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this year, Buchanan protested the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to downgrade manatees from “endangered” to “threatened.” Earlier this year, Buchanan teamed up with Hastings on bringing out the “Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act," a proposal banning the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption.
First elected to the U.S. House in 2006, Buchanan serves on both the Budget and the Ways and Means Committees. Buchanan’s name has garnered buzz as a possible U.S. Senate candidate in recent cycles but he’s opted to continue in the House.