Following up on last week’s post, on Monday, September 27th Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced legislation, an amendment to H.R. 5566, which will prohibit the sale of crush videos, meaning any film, video, or recording that depicts live animals being crushed, drowned, suffocated or impaled in a manner that would violate a criminal prohibition under Federal or State law. The good news is that a day later, on September 28th, this legislation was met with unanimous approval by the entire Senate. While the legislation will now need to be reapproved by the House (which is very likely, due to the original H.R. 5566’s 416 Ayes to 3 Nays), this is a big step in infusing strength back into 18 U.S.C. § 48 after the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Stevens.
While I, like many of you, was very happy to hear about this turn of events, I was dismayed to learn that five other animal protection bills: the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act, the Shark Conservation Act, the Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, and the Crane Conservation Act (all which had successfully passed through the House) were blocked from Senate consideration by Senator Coburn from Oklahoma. Coburn has made known his desire to promote fiscal restraint, and has used his Senatorial power to block bills to promote this restraint to such an extent that he has been nicknamed “Dr. No.” Unfortunately, however, this tactic might just work to delay these bills indefinitely, due to the fact that the bills can be withheld from consideration for as long as Senator Coburn wishes to continue to block their passage.
Coburn was quoted as saying “”the problems that are facing this country are so big and so massive that our attention ought to be focused on those large problems, not on five separate bills that have been proffered for special interest groups.” That being said, it seems that Coburn’s apparent belief that fiscal constraint is inconsistent with spending money on wildlife protection does not fare well for such protection bills being passed under the 111th Senate. At least, however, wildlife aficionados will not be the only angered parties: Coburn also blocked a bill which would have funded a Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C. and one which have strengthened FDA oversight and enforcement programs to ensure greater food safety standards.
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal law Tagged: | animal advocacy, animal law, animal suffering, animal welfare, Crane Conservation Act, crush videos, environmental advocacy, environmental ethics, environmental law, H.R. 5566, Jeff Merkley, Jon Kyl, Richard Burr, Shark Conservation Act, Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, the Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments, Tom Coburn, U.S. v. Stevens, United States v. Stevens