Update: All three House spending bill amendments threatening wild horses have failed. The House Rules Committee did not allow a vote on a late amendment by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., which would have halted funding to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program following Fiscal Year 2024. Failing in floor votes were amendments by Griffith, which would have cut $72.2 million from the 2024 Wild Horse and Burro budget, and Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., which would cut Bureau of Land Management funding by 50%.
The House of Representative’s Rules Committee will decide on Wednesday whether a series of spending bill amendments that could place the lives of captured wild horses and burros at risk will advance to the floor for votes.
- An amendment by Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., which would cut Bureau of Land Management funding by 50%, or about $700 million;
- A late amendment by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., which would halt funding to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program following Fiscal Year 2024;
- Another late amendment by Griffith that would slash $74.2 million from the BLM’s 2024 Wild Horse and Burro budget.
While Return to Freedom routinely raises concerns about the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, cuts of this scale would put the lives of captured wild horses at risk.
They would also immediately derail any progress toward BLM implementing a robust program of proven, safe and humane fertility control needed to slow wild horse and burro herd growth needed to halt future roundups.
For Fiscal Year 2023, BLM spent $157.8 million on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, with $108.5 million (69%) going to the care and feeding of more than 60,000 captured horses and burros in off-range holding facilities.
The Senate Interior Bill passed in July includes $1.4 billion for the BLM in 2024, with $147.9 billion for the wild horse program – including $11 million “to be spent to continue implementation of a robust and humane fertility control strategy of reversible immunocontraceptive vaccines.”
By comparison, the House Interior Appropriations Committee on June 19 approved $155 million for wild horse management in 2024. The House Committee’s report language also sets aside $11 million for fertility control; however, it does not specify using the funding solely for immediate on-range implementation. The House also allows the money to be used for research, including on permanent sterilization, which RTF strongly opposes.
Recent uncertainty about House leadership has delayed movement on appropriations bills, but the Senate and House are now moving their own short-term versions of the spending packages.
Leaders from both chambers are considering another short-term extension of the previous appropriations bills which is set to expire on Nov. 17 while they work out the very deep differences between the House and Senate appropriations bills.
RTF is keeping a close eye on developments as Congress moves forward on some agreement regarding funding the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2024.
Other Congressional updates:
- It appears both the House and Senate funding bills will again include language barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using tax dollars to hire horsemeat inspectors, keeping an effective ban on horse slaughter in place;
- Work continues to have the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) bill language banning horse slaughter inside the United States and the export of horses for slaughter in the Farm Bill. The delay in appropriations work could push the Farm Bill back until 2024.
- Call your representative at (202) 224-3121 and urge him or her to oppose to amendments that would dramatically cut BLM funding or cut funding for wild horses altogether.
- Support safe, proven and humane fertility control that can end wild horse roundups: Send a letter to Congress.
- Urge your representative to support the SAFE Act to permanently ban horse slaughter and the export of American horses for slaughter. Send a letter to Congress.