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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Scoring our Lawmakers on their Support for Animal Protection

The Humane Society Legislative Fund today posted a preview of its 2008 Humane Scorecard. The scorecard, which is published annually, provides the records of U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives on major animal welfare policies. This most recent report card covers 2007-2008, the two-year span of the 110th Congress.

Cover The Humane Scorecard provides an easy way for constituents to assess how their federal lawmakers acted on animal protection issues, and it helps chart the progress of our public policy work on behalf of animals. Animal protection is more than ever being treated like the serious moral issue it is on Capitol Hill, and lawmakers are debating policies that have enormous implications for animals.

During this session, Congress passed measures dealing with animal fighting, puppy mills, Animal Welfare Act enforcement, chimpanzee sanctuaries, pet food safety, the Canadian seal hunt, and a war dog memorial. Appropriators provided record levels of funding for the enforcement of animal welfare laws and support for alternatives to animal testing, cut spending for horse slaughter, and directed agencies to take action on de-clawing of cats, humane slaughter of poultry, and trophy hunting subsidies.

The 2008 report scores lawmakers on their floor votes on legislation to crack down on animal fighting; protect wild horses and burros from slaughter; stop the imports of sport-hunted polar bear trophies; bar the trade in captive primates for the exotic pet industry; support conservation programs for endangered cranes, great cats, and rare canids; and override President Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill that included core animal welfare provisions on animal fighting, puppy mills, and Animal Welfare Act enforcement.

We also rated legislators on their co-sponsorship of key bills such as those to stop horse slaughter;  stop the abuse of "downer" livestock too sick or injured to walk; end the use in research of random source dogs and cats (including stolen pets) from "Class B" dealers; and require the labeling of fur-trimmed apparel; and their signing of a letter requesting funding for enforcement of animal welfare laws. Members who led as prime sponsors of animal protection legislation receive extra credit.

We hope you’ll study this scorecard and use it as a tool to ensure that your legislators represent your interests in Washington, D.C. Let legislators know that you’re watching and you appreciate their support for pro-animal legislation; or if they haven’t done enough, let them know you’d like to see them do more. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the 2008 Humane Scorecard:

  • A bipartisan group of 39 Senators and 108 Representatives representing 42 states and two U.S. territories led as prime sponsors of pro-animal legislation and/or scored a perfect 100—more than one-third of the Senate and nearly one-quarter of the House.
  • The average Senate score was a 49, with Senate Democrats averaging 67, and Senate Republicans averaging 30.
  • The average House score was a 56, with House Democrats averaging 75, and House Republicans averaging 33.
  • Nineteen Senators scored 100 or 100+ (15 Democrats, 2 Republicans, 2 Independents). 
  • Five Senators scored zero (No Democrats, 5 Republicans).
  • Sixty-six Representatives scored 100 or 100+ (60 Democrats, 6 Republicans).
  • Thirteen Representatives scored zero (No Democrats, 13 Republicans).
  • The New England region led the pack with an average Senate score of 81 and an average House score of 92.
  • The Rocky Mountains were at the bottom with an average Senate score of 22 and an average House score of 33.
  • California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, and Vermont are the only states in which both Senators scored 100 or 100+.
  • New Hampshire and Oklahoma are the only states with an average Senate score of less than 10.
  • Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the only states with an average House score of 90 or above.
  • Alaska, Oklahoma, and Utah are the only states with an average House score of 20 or below.

I would especially like to acknowledge the following 7 Senators and 23 Representatives who scored the highest possible 100+ for receiving a perfect score and also leading on animal protection legislation:

  • Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.)
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
  • Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
  • Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
  • Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)
  • Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
  • Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.)
  • Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)
  • Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.)
  • Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.)
  • Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
  • Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.)
  • Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
  • Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.)
  • Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)
  • Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.)
  • Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. James Moran (D-Va.)
  • Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
  • Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio)
  • Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.)
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

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