CONTRIBUTED BY ANIMAL WELLNESS ACTION
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
President Joe Biden inked the last of five animal protection measures into law Dec. 29 in the year-end spending bill to fund the federal government for FY2023.
The FDA Modernization Act 2.0, Reducing Animal Testing Act and a statutory fix to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 were enacted, as well as record-breaking funding for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act of 1970.
Earlier in the month, Biden signed into statute the Big Cat Public Safety Act and Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act in the preceding weeks.
“Reducing the numbers of animals used in testing, shutting down commercial cub-petting operations, halting the use of performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing and working to combat the massacre of sharks for their fins are good policies for the United States,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy. “These laws, individually and collectively, help make our nation more humane when it comes to our treatment of animals.”
“We applaud President Biden, the White House and the 117th Congress for enacting the most comprehensive legislative victories for animals of any Congress in history,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and an eight-time world champion equestrian. “These new policies will revolutionize the pharmaceutical world, end the ridiculous practices of cub-petting and shark finning and better protect our iconic American equines from doping and long-term abuses that have plagued the equine world for half a century.”
Here is background on the legislative progress:
FDA MODERNIZATION ACT AND REDUCING ANIMAL TESTING ACT
In December 2022, federal lawmakers passed the FDA Modernization Act 2.0. It was led by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.). The new act includes both the original FDA Modernization Act and the Reducing Animal Testing Act, and it eliminates a federal mandate for animal testing for new drugs and for biosimilars.
Given that perhaps 75% of all animals used in testing are conscripted for drug development, enactment of the measure marked the biggest policy win on the issue of animal testing in our nation’s history. On a significant parallel track, Animal Wellness Action succeeded in getting an additional $5 million in new money to support an FDA-wide New Alternative Methods Program to reduce animal testing (total is $12.5 million).
The FDA Modernization Act 2.0 promises to reboot a broken drug development paradigm and, if it is vigorously implemented, will deliver safer, more effective and more reliable palliatives and cures to people in need.
HORSERACING INTEGRITY AND SAFETY ACT STATUTORY REPAIR
Animal Wellness Action, along with The Jockey Club, worked with key lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to amend the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020. The result was an amendment made to a provision in the original law that a federal appellate court declared unconstitutional in November and which put the national ban on race-day doping of Thoroughbreds in jeopardy. Performance-enhancing drugs put the animals at risk of breakdowns and other injuries and make the entire industry suspect.
Animal Wellness Action launched a new site, www.HISAWatchdog.org, to help facilitate communication and keep a watchful eye on regulators. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) led this effort in Congress.
BIG CAT PUBLIC SAFETY ACT
Biden signed the standalone Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, led by Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) into law on Dec. 21 after a long, 11-year campaign to end the trade in big cats as pets and to shut down commercial cub-petting operations that treat tiger cubs and kittens as props.
This bill closes out the cub-petting industry, which breeds tigers and lions to allow patrons to handle cubs for a fee. There are thousands of big cats kept in private hands, and just a decade ago, there were more than 60 cub-petting menageries.
SHARK FIN SALES ELIMINATION ACT
Shark fins are off all menus in the United States, with Congress passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law in December.
This bill was seven years in the works and addresses the global mass killing of as many as 70 million sharks for their fins. Like the ban on the sale of dog and cat meat in the United States, U.S. leadership will be attention-getting throughout the world, including in nations where there is still an appetite for shark fin soup. The effort was led by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) and Gregorio Sablan (D-N.M.I.) in the House, and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) led the charge to secure this new law.
RECORD-BREAKING FUNDING FOR ENFORCEMENT OF THE HORSE PROTECTION ACT
The latest Congressional spending bill, funding government operations in 2023, includes a record level of $4.1 million to enforce the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 — that’s $1 million more than the prior year’s record funding level of $3 million. This is consequential because a segment of horse trainers tortures horses to get them to exaggerate their gait and win ribbons at horse shows. With more inspections, Animal Wellness Action should be able to crack down on some level of lawlessness until the 52-year-old law can be upgraded next year. Until the group started pressing for more funding in 2018 when the organization opened shop, the HPA never saw more than $705,000 in funding per year since the HPA was enacted in 1970. Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), as well as retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) were instrumental in securing this funding.
With the enactment of these new measures, Animal Wellness Action has helped secure a total of 12 new animal protection laws within four years since the organization was formed in 2018. These legislative achievements also include the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act and Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act, signed into law in 2018; the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act and Rescuing Animals With Rewards (RAWR) Act, enacted in 2019; the original HISA statute in 2020; the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, in 202l; and the five measures recently enacted by Biden.