Animal rights group fears Mario Diaz-Balart could be decisive vote on horse slaughter
WASHINGTON – Despite efforts to sway him, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami could prove the decisive vote Wednesday morning on a measure allowing horse slaughter.
“His vote can, and probably will make all the difference,” said Marty Irby, senior advisor for the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
UPDATE: Diaz-Balart joined the majorty in 27-25 vote that defeated an amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill that would prevent funding for horse slaughter plant inspections. The ban has been approved in previous years.
While Diaz-Balart once sided with animal welfare groups, he now stands apart from some of his Florida colleagues, including Appropriations members Tom Rooney and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as well as Rep. Vern Buchanan. Buchanan is sponsor of legislation to permantely ban the killing of horses for human consumption and the export of horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.
“The reality is, if these horses are not dealt with in USDA certified and inspected facilities, they will be hauled off to a foreign market where the conditions are much more cruel and less humane,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement. “GAO found that the ban shifted slaughter facilities to other countries, including Mexico, where humane methods and responsible oversight are not as rigorous as those in the U.S. GAO has also observed that there is not enough space in rescue facilities in the U.S. to handle abandoned horses.”
Irby suggested Diaz-Balart was feeling pressure from other members and that he was going against the interest of his constituents.
“We would not only be saving horse lives. We would be saving the American people more than $5 million,” he said in an interview. “We’ve had people contact him and say ‘If you just can’t vote with us, then just don’t vote, abstain.’ ”
Irby said agriculture subcommittee chairman, Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, has not made the GAO report public.
“The Humane Society of the United States, and Humane Society Legislative Fund, were consulted by GAO in preparation of the report, and we provided overwhelming evidence that vast networks of horse rescues are available, and many of the horses rescued go on to have second career’s as show horses, trail horses, and breeding stock,” Irby said.
“The HSUS, partnered with the ASPCA, and Animal Welfare Institute offers the Homes for Horse Coalition as one such avenue. In addition, many other alternatives such as the Unwanted Horse Coalition, and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance also exist to prevent American equines from being slaughtered for human consumption – an act that over 80% of the American people will not tolerate in today’s modern society.”