While there are many issues that divide Democrats and Republicans, one that strongly unites us is protecting helpless animals from severe cruelty and torture.

Animal protection is a cause that enjoys broad support from Americans of all political affiliations. From Sarasota, Fla., to Portland, Ore., animal lovers have something to be excited about as the 2019-20 session of Congress is shaping up to be a productive time for animal welfare and wildlife conservation efforts.

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We will build upon the success of the last Congress, which passed legislation to end dog fighting in U.S. territories, banned the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption and helped survivors of domestic violence keep their pets. This session, the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus has an even more ambitious agenda.

With more than 130 members of Congress, our caucus is committed to passing legislation that combats animal cruelty, ends painful experimentation on animals and permanently bans the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.

We ask our colleagues in Congress to join us – and millions of Americans – in supporting the following bipartisan reforms:

Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act (H.R. 724/S.479)

While federal penalties exist for creating videos of animals being tortured, there are currently no penalties for the acts of abuse themselves. The PACT Act would strengthen federal law and prohibit extreme acts of animal cruelty in interstate or foreign commerce, video recording or not. This sweeping legislation would create the first nationwide animal cruelty bill, empowering federal prosecutors to go after people who abuse animals.

The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 737)

The global demand for shark fins has decimated shark populations, with certain species on the brink of extinction. While the U.S. has a ban on shark finning itself, Congress can strengthen it with the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which outlaws the possession, sale and trade of shark fins. They are harvested by slicing off the fins of live sharks and throwing the mutilated animals back into the ocean to die.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961)

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 100,000 American horses are annually exported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses to be killed for human consumption. No current federal law exists to prohibit the transport of horses across U.S. borders. The domestic ban on horse slaughter is temporary and must undergo annual congressional review. The SAFE Act would permanently ban this cruel practice that often results in injuries and suffering before slaughter as well as prohibiting the export of horses to be killed for human consumption. 

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 693)

Throughout history, certain horse trainers have engaged in soring, where pain is inflicted on the legs and hooves of Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds using chemicals, sharp objects and other agonizing methods to produce an artificially high-stepping gait to gain advantages in horse shows. While Congress passed relevant legislation almost a half-century ago, the PAST Act would strengthen existing law to overhaul enforcement and increase penalties for those who commit this heinous practice.

 Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act (H.R. 1042)

When disaster strikes it is important that no one gets left behind, including animals. And when it comes to disaster plans, animals can be often forgotten. The PREPARED Act would require that zoos, animal dealers and research facilities have contingency plans in place to safely evacuate animals in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.

Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act (H.R. 864)

Wildlife trafficking is the third most profitable illegal industry in the world, following only drugs and guns. This $10 billion-a-year illegal industry results in the deaths of thousands of endangered animals each year. The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act would build on the successes of previous anti-trafficking bills by strengthening law enforcement safeguards against wildlife trafficking. The bill would upgrade certain violations to federal racketeering and organized crime offenses as well as increase incentives for informants.

All of these bills enjoy bipartisan support. We believe the new Congress this year will move swiftly on these important measures that have been ignored for far too long, such as the PACT Act. Ending animal cruelty should be a bipartisan priority we can all support.

Buchanan and Blumenauer serve as co-chairs of the Animal Protection Caucus.