Today, October 21, 2019, the Problem Solvers Caucus praised the passage of H.R. 724, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act of 2019, which utilized the new House “Consensus Calendar” to help get a debate and vote on the House floor. This legislation creates a federal animal cruelty statute prohibiting the most heinous acts of abuse which can occur beyond the reach of state cruelty laws.
The initiative received priority consideration on the House floor by having more than 290 bipartisan cosponsors – a key new house rule the Problem Solvers Caucus fought for early this Congress. The bill had 301 bipartisan co-sponsors when it reached the floor today.
H.R. 724 would make some of the most egregious forms of animal cruelty (specifically crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling, or sexual exploitation) in or affecting interstate commerce or within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States a federal crime. The current federal law prohibiting the creation and distribution of “crush videos” does not cover the underlying acts of animal abuse. The PACT Act extends federal jurisdiction to these specific and unspeakable acts of animal abuse, thereby closing the loophole. Though animal fighting and the distribution of so-called “crush videos” are illegal under federal law, the vast majority of animal cruelty laws are at the state level.
Under the new House Rules, once a bill reaches 290 co-sponsors, a 25 legislative day clock will begin. If the primary committee of jurisdiction does not report the bill out of committee by the end of the 25 legislative days, the legislation will be placed on the new Consensus Calendar, where it will remain until the bill is considered. For every in-session week, after February 28th of the First Session and before September 30th of the Second Session, majority leadership will be required to bring at least one bill on the Consensus Calendar to the House floor for a vote.
Rep. Ted Deutch, the lead sponsor of H.R.724, filed a motion to place the bill on the House's Consensus Calendar on October 16th, not even requiring the full 25 days to be taken off the calendar for a vote.
“The PACT Act will strengthen federal penalties for those who promote and engage in torture and abuse of animals,” said Congressman Chris Smith, a member of the Caucus. “I have long believed that the federal government has a critical role to play in fostering animal protection policies and the PACT Act is an important step in establishing tough federal animal protection standards.”
Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Tom Reed said, “My dogs – Babbs, Trooper and Jovie – are part of the family. I can’t imagine the anger I would have if someone abused these loving animals, and escaped prosecution because the act occurred outside of New York State jurisdiction. This is a commonsense bill to protect the animals we care so much about. I am glad the Problem Solvers Caucus is able to utilize the new House rules we implemented last January to push this bipartisan legislation across the finish line.”
“The PACT Act is long-overdue legislation that will ensure animals are treated fairly and humanely, by creating consequences to those who abuse them," said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Josh Gottheimer, "I am proud that the Problem Solvers have helped pave the way, with the new Consensus Calendar, for bipartisan legislation that closes loopholes in the law and strengthens protections against animal cruelty to be passed out of the House."
“Cruelty to animals is unacceptable, and it is important Congress do everything in its power to punish those who purposely harm animals,” Congresswoman Elaine Luria said. “As a strong advocate for animal rights and a pet owner myself, I will continue supporting legislation to protect all animals.”
“As a former FBI agent, I know about the agency’s profiling studies showing how violence against animals escalates to human violence. That’s why tamping down egregious animal cruelty on federal property or in interstate commerce now is critical. The PACT Act, with 301 bipartisan cosponsors makes these horrible crimes illegal. These acts serve no purpose other than to inflict useless pain on innocent and defenseless animals,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. “I am proud of the wide-ranging and bipartisan support the PACT Act has received in the House and I am proud that Senator Toomey is leading the charge on this issue in the other chamber. Together, we will end this and all types of animal cruelty and torture.”
Congressman Tom Suozzi said, “Any form of animal abuse is detestable and Congress must do everything in its power to prevent animal cruelty! I want to thank my colleagues for working across the aisle to pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation and I will continue to advocate vigorously for animal protection throughout my time in Congress.”
“Cracking down on animal abuse is an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans. As a parent of a rescue dog myself, I know how important animals are to families and we need to give law enforcement the tools they need to hold abusers accountable. I am a proud cosponsor of the PACT Act and I hope we can see this bipartisan, common-sense bill become law,” said Congressman Anthony Brindisi.
“Those who knowingly commit acts of animal cruelty must be subject to criminal penalty,” said Congressman Jimmy Panetta. “The bipartisan Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act is common-sense policy that provides law enforcement additional authorities to combat animal cruelty.”
“No person should ever intentionally inflict pain on a living creature,” said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez. “Animal cruelty should be a federal crime and we have a moral obligation to report abuse if we witness it. I am pleased to cosponsor this legislation and thank my colleagues who have joined me in support of this cause to be a powerful voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Congressman Brad Schneider said, “I am a proud co-sponsor of the PACT Act to strengthen the laws preventing cruel abuse of animals. Congress previously took action to crack down on disturbing animal abuse videos, and the PACT Act builds on that progress by making the acts of cruelty themselves illegal. I welcome the bipartisan support of the Problem Solvers Caucus on this legislation to improve animal welfare.”
“I’m proud to see another commonsense, bipartisan bill reach the House floor thanks to a new rule the Problem Solvers Caucus fought for earlier this year,” Congressman Fred Upton said. “Protecting small, innocent animals from torture is an important priority for folks across the nation. I’m glad to see this animal welfare legislation advance, and I’d like to commend my colleagues for all their work.”
“I’m a proud co-sponsor of the PACT ACT because it is commonsense legislation that criminalizes certain acts of animal cruelty,” said Congressman Dan Lipinski. ”Anyone who participates in animal cruelty of any kind or profits off it in any fashion must be held criminally liable. I appreciate the work of the Problem Solvers Caucus to get bipartisan bills as overwhelmingly popular as this one to the floor for a vote.”
“Animal cruelty is abhorrent and there should be legal consequences for someone who purposely tortures animals. This legislation is one way Republicans and Democrats are working together to try to prevent such a terrible act,” said Congressman Ben McAdams.
Congressman Tom O’Halleran said, “Animals deserve to be treated humanely in both wild and domestic habitats. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of animal welfare organizations across the country, animals are often mistreated. The PACT Act is a good first step in correcting the shameful practice of animal abuse.”
“As a pet owner who considers our golden retriever to be a member of our family and as a member of the Animal Protection Caucus, I am a proud cosponsor of the PACT Act,” said Congressman Dave Joyce. “Any form of animal abuse or ill-treatment has absolutely no place in our society. I applaud my colleagues in the House for their support of this federal animal cruelty legislation and look forward to seeing it get signed into law as soon as possible.”
"There is no justification for abusing animals, and I'm proud to stand with my colleagues to pass the PACT Act. This is something everyone should be able to support, and I'm proud of this bipartisan legislation. The PACT Act is a step toward ending heinous cruelty once and for all," said Congressman Salud Carbajal.
“As a member of the bipartisan Animal Protection Caucus, I care deeply about the welfare and protection of animals in Central Virginia and across the country. In cases of extreme animal cruelty, we have a responsibility to identify potential issues, stop egregious acts against animals, and prevent future cases of abuse,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. “Today, I’m proud to be a part of a strong bipartisan majority working to pass the PACT Act, which I cosponsored. Those who intentionally crush animals should be brought to justice, and I hope our colleagues in the Senate will quickly bring this bill up for a vote.”
The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising of 48 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).