Congress takes a month long vacation during the month of August. This tradition goes back to the days before air conditioning and a decision was made to allow lawmakers to escape DC during the worst heat of the summer. Now it allows lawmakers to go home and have contact with their constituents, so they can better represent them and to allow them to actively campaign.
While we had hoped to have something in place to protect the horses before the break, it didn't happen. We did have a small victory in the House before the break. Wording was added to the House Agricultural Appropriations Bill that would strengthen the prohibition of using taxpayer dollars to support the horse slaughter industry through inspections.
Congress passed legislation to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to inspect horses for slaughter in the 2006 (and carried through the 2007) Appropriations Act, but the USDA worked with the slaughter plants to allow them to circumvent Congressional intent. When the courts decided that the USDA acted inappropriately Cavel (at this point both the Texas plants were closed) filed an appeals gaining a restraining order to allow them to continue operating. Cavel is operating under this restraining order and another one because Illinois passed a ban on horses slaughter and the courts allowed them a restraining order to prevent the state of Illinois from enforcing their new law while the court hears an appeal on that case.
During the August break we are asking EVERY person to contact their Senators in their district offices and asking them to support ANY wording in ANY bill that would ban horse slaughter. This is especially important with the Agriculture Appropriations Bill the Senate will be hearing when they resume work in September.
If you are able to schedule an appointment with your Senator or his/her aide during the break it is your chance to be heard. Just call the district offices of your Senators (you can find the number in your local phone book or by going to www.house.gov and entering your state) and ask for an appointment. You can also attend events where your Senators may be speaking and talk to them. This is just as important as lobbying in DC, if not more so. Senators need to hear from those that they represent and who elect them into office.
With HR 503 and S 311 stalled, it is important that we do all that we can to see that current legislation is strengthened until we can get permanent legislation passed.