Hot Off the Press: 112th Congress Midterm Humane Scorecard
Last month I provided a look at our 2011 congressional year in review for animals, and noted many of the achievements and setbacks during the first half of the 112th Congress. We made progress for animal protection on a number of fronts, especially increased funding to crack down on puppy mills and horse soring despite a very tough budget climate, and laid the groundwork for important policies to be considered in 2012.
I’m pleased to announce today that the Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as agribusiness subsidies, lethal predator control, and the Endangered Species Act; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimps in research; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. All of the priority bills whose cosponsorships we’re counting enjoy strong bipartisan support; in the House, each of the four now has more than 150 cosponsors.
The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but creating some reasonable yardstick and allowing citizens to hold lawmakers accountable is central to our work. The HSUS historically and in recent years HSLF have been publishing the Humane Scorecard since the 103rd Congress (which covered 1993-1994), so this annual congressional snapshot has been available for nearly two decades. Additionally, The HSUS has just published its report card on the Obama administration, measuring the performance of the federal regulatory agencies on animal welfare issues, and giving the administration a subpar grade of C-minus for 2011.
When the Humane Scorecard comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve. And much more needs to be done, as we have just begun 2012 and are pushing animal protection policy issues forward in the second half of the 112th Congress.
Here are a few of the most important statistics from 2011:
- A bipartisan group of 30 Senators and 97 Representatives covering 38 states, three U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia led as prime sponsors of pro-animal legislation and/or scored a perfect 100—nearly one-third of the Senate and one-quarter of the House.
- The average Senate score was a 41, with Senate Democrats averaging 58, Senate Republicans averaging 22, and Senate Independents averaging 100.
- The average House score was a 42, with House Democrats averaging 70, and House Republicans averaging 19.
- Fifteen Senators scored 100 or 100+.
- Eleven Senators scored zero.
- Sixty-five Representatives scored 100 or 100+.
- One hundred ten Representatives scored zero.
- The New England region led the pack with an average Senate score of 83 and an average House score of 69, followed closely by the Mid-Atlantic region with a Senate score of 62 and a House score of 67, and the West with a Senate score of 60 and a House score of 55.
- The Rocky Mountains and the Southeast were at the bottom with average Senate scores of 28 and 26, respectively, and average House scores of 22 and 26.
- California, Connecticut, and Vermont were the only states with an average Senate score of 100.
- Georgia and Kansas were the only states in which both Senators scored zero.
- Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont were the only states with an average House score above 80, and of them, only Rhode Island had an average House score of 100.
- Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming were the only states with an average House score below 10.
I’d like to give special thanks to the following three Senators and 26 Representatives who scored the highest possible 100+, meaning they had a perfect score on animal protection and also provided key leadership on a particular issue or issues:
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
- Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
- Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.)
- Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii)
- Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
- Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
- Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
- Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.)
- Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.)
- Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.)
- Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)
- Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.)
- Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio)
- Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)
- Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.)
- Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.)
- Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)
- Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.)
- Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.)
- Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.)
I hope you will use the Humane Scorecard as a guide, and communicate with your lawmakers about their grades for 2011. If they scored high marks, please thank them for their support of animal protection. If they did poorly, please tell them you’re watching and you hope they’ll do better in 2012. Let all your federal legislators know that you and other constituents care about the humane treatment of animals, and want to see common-sense policies enacted to protect these creatures from cruelty and abuse.