The votes are in—the U.S. House of Representatives just passed a broad spending package to fund various federal agencies for Fiscal Year 2023. The federal budget operates on fiscal years that run from October 1 to September 30, so this FY2023 bill will take effect later this year.
We are happy to report that the House-passed spending package dedicates critical resources to government agencies responsible for protecting animals from cruelty and ensuring their welfare. In addition to the victories we previously reported, several priority animal welfare issues received support: protecting wild and domestic horses, keeping people and pets together in public housing, reforming the USDA’s broken Animal Welfare Act (AWA) enforcement program, and encouraging the USDA to improve the accuracy and implementation of its food-labeling process.
If enacted, here are a few ways that this major spending package would bolster our country’s progress for animals:
- The Agriculture Appropriations report highlights the USDA’s failure to properly enforce the AWA—noting the “poor state of the program”—and directs the agency to improve. This is long overdue because violations of the law continue to go unchecked by the USDA. And it’s not just puppy mills: Recently, the high-profile Envigo case resulted in the removal of thousands of beagles from a facility inhumanely breeding dogs for research. Aware of the facility’s AWA violations, the USDA failed to revoke or suspend Envigo’s license, or take any other action against this breeder. In fact, despite documented abuse and violations, the USDA shockingly chose to renew Envigo’s license.
The Agriculture Appropriations report also includes language encouraging the USDA to reform its system for approving claims like “humanely raised” and “natural” on food labels. It is the USDA’s responsibility to ensure that such claims are meaningful and reflect consumer expectations about how animals raised for food are treated.
- The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Appropriations report urges HUD to ensure that residents of public housing retain their rights to live with a pet. This will help keep people and pets together as the agency works on solutions to expand and improve affordable housing options.
- The Interior Department Appropriations bill commits an additional $19 million to the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Furthermore, the House Appropriations Committee directs the Interior Department to use these funds to implement a humane, sustainable population management program, which will enable the agency to move away from cruel large-scale roundup and removal practices.
We applaud the House of Representatives—especially the members who championed these issues—for including important animal welfare matters in next year’s spending package.
Next up: the U.S. Senate! Please urge your U.S. senators to support measures that protect animals in FY2023 spending bills.
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