How Illinois legislators scored on humane legislation

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-1153945758417.jpg’, ”, ‘U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11539457971212.jpg’, ”, ‘U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115394581332390.jpg’, ”, ‘U.S. sen. Dick Durbin’);

Each year, the Humane Society Legislative Fund of the Humane Society of the U.S. publishes a Humane Scorecard to show legislators’ track records for the numerous amendments and bills the organization supports to protect animals.

To more accurately measure legislators’ support for the broad range of animal issues, the Humane Society counts co-sponsorships of certain key bills along with the their recorded votes. Co-sponsoring a bill is a meaningful way for legislators to help advance the bill in Congress. Also included are those who signed letters seeking increased funding to enforce key animal welfare laws.

Scores are given on the total number of items counted (five for the Senate, six for the House). For example, a senator who was pro-animal on four out of five scored items receives a score of 80, and a representative who was pro-animal on five out of six scored items receives a score of 83. Members who led as prime sponsors of pro-animal legislation receive “extra credit” equivalent to one vote or co-sponsorship, unless they already had a score of 100, in which case, their scores appear with a plus sign.

What are some current animal welfare bills before Congress now?

Horse Slaughter: The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate each passed an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill, offered by Reps. John Sweeney (R-NY), John Spratt (D-SC), Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Robert Byrd (D-WV), to stop USDA from spending tax dollars during fiscal year 2006 to allow the slaughter of American horses for food exports.

Wild Horses (House only): The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill offered by Reps. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY), which would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from using any of its budget to sell wild horses and burros, and have them go to slaughter.

PAWS: Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS), S 1139 AND HR 2669, to provide oversight and better care for puppies and kittens bred by large commercial operations and sold over the Internet or newspaper ads.

Downers: Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH) introduced the Downed Animal Protection Act, S 1779 and HR 3931, to establish a permanent ban on the slaughter of “downed” livestock—animals too sick or injured to stand or walk on their own.

Animal Fighting: Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Rep. Mark Green (R-WI) introduced the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, S 382 and HR 817 to create felony-level penalties for animal fighting activities.

Enforcement Letter: Sens. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Carl Levin (D-MI) and Reps. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) led a group letter to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee seeking funds needed for the USDA to improve enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and the federal animal fighting law.

Leaders: HSUS indicated whether your representative or senator was an author or leader on legislation to protect animals, going the extra mile to carry the day for humane lawmaking.

So, how did our local legislators score on these issues?

Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-16) cast a “NO” vote on the Agriculture Appropriations Amendment to stop horse slaughter. In the other bills and the enforcement letter noted here, he did not show any support for animal protection on any of the issues. His score: 0.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) did vote for the Agriculture Appropriations Amendment to stop horse slaughter for food exports. However, he did not support any of the other legislation or the letter mentioned above, giving him a score of 20.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) not only supported all the applicable legislation and the letter, but was also rated as a leader in promoting animal welfare legislation. The Humane Society Legislative Fund gives him a score of 100+.

For more information on animal welfare issues coming up in Congress, contact the Humane Society Legislative Fund at 519 C Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002 or online at

From the July 28-Aug. 1, 2006, issue

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