My first meeting was with Senator McConnell’s aide. She was very polite and interested in our information. She found our information very informative, especially the parts about the Myth of the Unwanted Horse. She took a number of notes and said that she would pass along the info to the Senator. Of course she wouldn’t promise anything, but I also felt that they may vote for the bill but wouldn’t cosponsor at this point.
I next attended a meeting with John Holland at Senator Obama’s office. His aide met with us and listened to us as though he was very interested. He took notes and received a great deal of information from AHDF, John Holland and the Friends of Barbaro. He said that the Senator liked the bill, but wasn’t sure about cosponsoring. John asked if his reluctance was due to the Presidential race. The aide said no, but it was rather unconvincing. He did state that the Illinois Horse Council had a meeting with him the next day and he was please to have some arguments to defend our side. We felt this was very good news that they would be defending our position, However, we don’t feel a cosponsorship is forth coming from this office any time soon.
The next meeting was with Senator Nelson’s (FL) aide. Keith Dane from the HSUS joined me on several of my meetings, including this one. The aide was very interested in our information. He liked our information on the unwanted horse and he also found our information on theft very interesting. He later met with John Holland and said that our meeting was one of the best he had ever had. He said he was impressed with our professionalism and information. The aide is a horse owner and stated that the horses are with his mother and she has an elderly horse who they would keep until it passed away. He agreed to present the information to the Senator and ask if he would cosponsor.
Next, Keith and I met with the aide for Senator Murray. He said that the Senator’s main concern was about unwanted horses. We explained that there are no unwanted horses, just those that are for sale for some reason or another. We gave him our information and he seemed very happy with our presentations. He stated he would ask the Senator if she would cosponsor. I think that with a little encouragement she would cosponsor again.
We had an appointment with Senator Martinez’s aide. He refused to see us. We did leave information for him and left.
Next I met with Senator DeMint’s aide. She was a very sweet person, but had disappointing news for us. She said that the Senator supported our bill, but would not cosponsor it. She said that in his new position in leadership he felt he couldn’t cosponsor any bills. She said we were not the only ones he has had to disappoint with this news. She did say that he would use his position to help the bill advance though. I asked if he would consider cosponsoring should the bill not move forward and she said she was sure he would consider it at that time. She assured me several times that his support was ongoing and I believe her. So, calls to this office will not result in a cosponsor.
I was asked to take a couple of meetings over on the House side. I did so as a favor to the FOBs and John Holland. However, I feel that our efforts are needed more on the Senate side and did not come prepared for House meetings. The FOBs had distributed information to all the House offices already and those I saw had already seen the information. Since I was there I went by my Representative’s office. He has voted with us every time I have asked, but he will not cosponsor. I know his position and have to respect it. His staff told me that he never changes his position and they are sure he will once again vote for it when it comes to the floor.
Last I met with Senator Biden’s aide. She said that the Senator supports the bill. The only reason he has not yet cosponsored is because they had not asked him to do it yet. I asked if she had any questions and answered those. She had previously shown horses through 4 H and her questions were once again about the unwanted horses. I gave her our information and she said she would ask the Senator at their next meeting. I left with a good feeling about the meeting and his cosponsorship. However, contacting his office shouldn’t be ruled out until he does cosponsor.
One of the folks with John’s group said that she met Senator Lindsay Graham in a elevator. She said he saw her button and he said to her “We are going to help you with your bill”. She was very excited about the comment and feels that he meant that he was going to push for the bill to get a vote. We do know that Senator Byrd is doing all he can do to support the bill and see it come to the floor for a vote. We also know that Senator Landrieu is also pushing for it. Senator McCain and Lott are doing a little work as well.
I will be going back to DC in July for an HSUS conference, then I will be back in DC to educate more Senators on the bill in September. We can always use donations to help cover the costs of these trips. The cost of producing our materials runs around $400 each time we go and as a non-profit our funding is limited. Even small donations help defray these costs.