Joe Biden Gets 100% Pro-Animal Rating

By Penny Starr | March 27, 2009 | 6:37pm EDT

Gillian Deegan, an attorney with Botetourt County, Virginia, brought her poodle to the conference where she talked about prosecuting animal abuse cases. ( Starr)

( - A black-and-white Holstein bull is featured on the cover of the latest "Humane Scorecard" booklet, published this month by a group that wants the public to know where politicians stand on “animal rights” issues.
The Holstein is symbolic of a recent victory for the Humane Society of the United States, which applauded the Obama Agriculture Department for barring sick or injured cattle from entering the U.S. food supply.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund rated lawmakers according to their votes on animal welfare issues in the 110th Congress. That “scorecard” also sets out the activists’ agenda for the current Congressional session.

“The Humane Scorecard lets you see if your legislators are voting or taking action to help protect animals,” the pro-vegetarian group says on its Web site.  (Friday’s conference at Georgetown Law School included vegan-only meals --no meat, no dairy.)
Overall, the scorecard said the 110th Congress "made significant progress on animal protection legislation, including banning the import of puppies from foreign breeding mills, strengthening the federal law on animal fighting, and providing safeguards against tainted ingredients in pet food."
In its “scorecard,” Democrats in both the House and the Senate scored higher than Republicans, with seven Democratic senators getting a 100+ rating and 22 congressmen getting the same high marks. (The 100+ rating indicates those members of Congress who were the prime sponsors of pro-animal legislation that became law.)
Senate Democrats on the “100+” list include Joe Biden (Del.), now the vice president; Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Diane Feinstein (Calif.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Carl Levin (Mich.) Ten other Democrats rated a score of 100, while only two Republicans in the Senate earned a 100 rating: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

Bernadette Juarez, deputy director of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Investigative Enforcement Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, talked about how the federal government is cracking down on animal abuse, including equestrians who use bit burrs (in her hands) to cause pain and manipulate a horse's behavior. ( Starr)

Because not all proposed legislation becomes law, lawmakers also were rated based on their co-sponsorship of bills. The "Humane Scorecard" also gave lawmakers credit for trying to boost funding for the enforcement of animal welfare laws.
In the House, 38 Democrats received 100 percent ratings, including Barbara Lee (Calif.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and Charles Rangel (N.Y.). Only six Republicans rated 100 -- Christopher Shays (Conn.), Roscoe Bartlett (Maryland), Jim Gerlach (Penn.), Todd Russell Platts (Penn.), Dave Reichert (Wash.) and Frank LoBiondo (N.J.).

Republican legislators earning a "0" score numbered 16 in the House, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), and five in the Senate -- Reps. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), George Voinovich (Ohio), John Sununu (N.H.) and Pete Domenici (N.M.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, earned the relatively low score of 33.

The legislation that earned Republicans the most "anti-animal" marks was the massive farm bill passed by Congress in May 2008, which President George W. Bush threatened to veto. Animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, supported the farm bill because it included what it called “key animal protection measures.”
The scorecard also outlines the Humane Society’s goals for the 111th Congress, including:
-- Ensuring that emissions from factory farms aren’t exempt from legislation
to combat global warming;
-- Requiring that data on animal cruelty crimes be reported as a separate category
in federal crime statistics databases;

-- Changing federal tax law to ensure that U.S. courts uphold “pet trusts” set up for “companion animals” after the owner’s death;
 -- Phasing out the use of chimpanzees in invasive research, retiring all federally
owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries, and codifying the National Institutes of Health moratorium on breeding these animals for invasive research;

-- Ensuring that students can choose humane alternatives to animal dissection
-- Banning importation of pythons.

Critics of the Humane Society of the United States, including food industry advocates, claim that the group’s animal-rights agenda seeks to cripple the meat and dairy industries, eliminate the use of animals in biomedical research labs, and put an end to circuses and zoos. The Humane Society also opposes hunting.

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