AHC Applauds Rep. Barr (R-KY), House Lawmakers, for Passage of Equine Therapy Amendment, Increased Support for America’s Veterans

July 31, 2017

Prior to adjourning for the August recess, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act” (H.R. 3219) offered by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), a bill that will increase equine therapy funding for veterans by $5 million during FY2018.  In a statement released Friday, July 28, Congressman Barr expressed his pleasure over passage of the defense spending legislation.  He stated that he is “particularly pleased that the final bill … expands the availability of evidence-based equine treatment for veterans who have suffered trauma while serving our country.”     

Before the equine therapy provision becomes law, House and Senate lawmakers must convene a “conference” to negotiate final legislation for a vote in both chambers, and present the bill to the President for his signature.  Because the House will not return to Washington until September 5, Congress will not be able to negotiate a final bill until the fall. Following failure of healthcare legislation last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has identified Federal Drug Administration (FDA) funding, Department of Defense (DOD) authorization legislation, and federal appointments as priorities for the next two weeks.  Congress must pass final spending bills, or a continuing resolution, prior to the end of the current fiscal year on September 30. 

To view a copy of Rep. Barr’s statement related to the equine therapy amendment, please see the following link:  https://barr.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/barr-votes-to-enhance-national-security.    If you would like more information about this bill or related issues in Congress, please contact Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org or 202-296-4031    

Senate Appropriations Committee Vote on Horse Slaughter Defunding

July 20, 2017

The Senate Committee on Appropriations voted July 20 in favor of an amendment offered by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to defund the USDA’s inspection of horse slaughter, a renewal of what was effectively a ban on the practice.

Today’s vote for the Udall-Graham Amendment means the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Bill may move forward with language limiting USDA action in the inspection of animals, facilities or products associated with horse slaughter.  On July 12, however, the House Appropriations Committee voted against a similar amendment that would defund USDA inspection of horse slaughter, setting the stage for possible negotiations on the final spending bill.    

Horse slaughter plants in the United States were closed in 2007 when funding for USDA inspection was halted through the appropriations approval process. Horse slaughter inspections will remain unfunded through September 30, 2017, when the current fiscal year will end. Further information will be available when approval for the FY18 Appropriations are finalized.

The American Horse Council has not taken a position on horse slaughter as the equine industry remains divided on this issue. Please contact the American Horse Council for further information.  

Extra H-2B Visas Made Available

July 18, 2017

U.S. businesses will be able to hire up to 15,000 additional temporary non-agricultural workers under the H-2B program following a final rule that the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor submitted to the Federal Register this week. To qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017. It was determined there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers are available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.

Congress gave Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly the discretionary authority to address the lack of available temporary workers and provide this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap. H-2B visas are used for temporary, non-agriculture workers at a variety of businesses, including racetrack grooms and handlers. The government offers 66,000 such visas a year, with the 2017 cap having been met within the first 30 days of open enrollment. This left many organizations without access to the critical labor pool provided by the H-2B program.

Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA with their petition. A new tip line to report general H-2B abuse and employer violations has also been established.

Details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the final rule and on the One-Time Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2017. This page also includes information on how individuals can report abuse in the program.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.gov.

House Ag Appropriations Committee Vote on Horse Slaughter Defunding

The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations voted July 12 against an amendment that Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) had offered to defund the USDA’s inspection of horse slaughter, a renewal of what was effectively a ban on the practice.

Wednesday’s vote against the Roybal-Allard/Dent amendment means the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Bill may move forward without any language limiting USDA action in the inspection of animals, facilities or products associated with horse slaughter. The Senate has yet to hold their full committee markup, and both bills must be accepted by the full House and Senate before the USDA could begin inspections for 2018.

Horse slaughter plants in the United States were closed in 2007 when funding for USDA inspection was halted through the appropriations approval process. Horse slaughter inspections will remain unfunded through September 30, 2017, when the current fiscal year will end. Further information will be available when voting for the FY18 Appropriations are finalized.

The American Horse Council has not taken a position on horse slaughter as the equine industry remains divided on this issue. Please contact the American Horse Council for further information.   

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