WASHINGTON, DC – After ignominiously dying in 2014, the PAST Act was finally reintroduced on July 28, 2015, in the U. S. House of Representatives.
Inexplicably, the new PAST Act sponsors, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR), did not hold a Press Conference to publicize the reintroduction of the bill..
Ted Yoho (R-FL) – Florida Congressman Since Jan. 2013
Kurt Schrader (D-OR) – Democrat Congressman Since Jan. 2009
According to informed sources, high drama and power struggles marked the 2015 efforts to find new Sponsors for the PAST Act. The PAST Act was unquestionably damaged in 2014 when HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) employee Ms. Connie Whitfield, wife of Representative Ed Whitfield, was accused of lobbying her husband and staff on behalf of HSUS regarding the PAST Act. Consequently, in July 2014, HSUS CEO Mr. Wayne Pacelle and Congressman Whitfield pulled the plug on the PAST Act. In March 2015, the U. S. House Ethics Committee began an official investigation of HSUS employee Ms. Connie Whitfield improperly influencing Congressman Whitfield. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) announced in September 2015, that he was quitting Congress and would not seek re-election in 2016.
All of this constitutes head winds facing the 2016 PAST Act prospects in the U. S. House of Representatives.
2016 – Presidential Election Year
In a “Presidential Election Year”, normally little gets done legislatively in Washington.
2016 has shaped up to be an unprecedented Presidential election year. Over 12 presidential candidates are vying for the GOP nomination, and the Republicans have been holding “Jerry Springer” like debates on national television. The Republican candidates are “eating their own”, and it promises to go on until it reaches a crescendo on July 18 – 21, 2016. at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
Interestingly, the original PAST Act passed the U. S. Senate in 1969, and was enacted into law in 1970. Neither 1969 or 1970 were Presidential election years. Richard Milhous Nixon was elected President of the United States in 1968 and 1972.
In addition to the Presidential races, many Congressmen face re-election opponents, including Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), and possibly Rep Schrader (D-OR). Rep. Schrader has apparently aroused the ire of the AFL-CIO in Oregon, and if he has an opponent, that race could become heated.
Historically, animal cruelty legislation is far down on the legislative totem pole. Things are extremely polarized in Washington, and the two sides hardly communicate with each other. So far in 2016, the House voted, 240 – 181, to appeal President Obama’s “Affordable Health Care”. The Obama Care issue has been before the U. S. Supreme Court twice, and the Supremes have upheld it each time. The partisan divisiveness has caused many worthy bills to not advance due to these hard feelings. In addition to congressional gridlock, and personal bad feelings resulting from it, here are some of the issues which capture the attention:
- Terrorism (general)
- The economy, jobs
- Guns, gun policy
- Immigration, illegal immigrants
- North Korean Nuclear Testing
- Islamic extremism, Al Qaeda, ISIS
- Crime, violence (general)
- Racism, race relations
- Health care, health insurance
- Homeland security
Historically, Animal Cruelty bills do not rate very high on the national legislative priority totem pole. In a Presidential election year, they rank even lower. Congressmen and their staffs attention is drawn elsewhere.
REP. TED YOHO (R-FL)
Rep. Ted Yoho sponsoring the PAST Act is an interesting proposition. The two best things Rep. Yoho brings to the table are:
- He is a Republican;
- He was a practicing large animal vet before being elected to Congress in January 2013.
Rep. Yoho doesn’t have a lot of congressional experience. He has only been on the job for three years, taking office in January 2013. He is a dyed in the wool Tea Party Republican. According to Wikipedia, Congressman Yoho doesn’t believe an American should be entitled to vote if the person doesn’t own real property. He is also opposed to absentee voting.
Rep. Yoho garnered nation-wide attention on Jan. 3, 2015, when he publicly opposed the re-election of House Speaker John Boehner. On Aug. 15, 2015, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) said ” … Boehner spends too much time retaliating against conservatives and has let Obama basically get whatever he wants.”
Commentary And Analysis:
- House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in whom the Big Lick invested campaign donations resigned on September 25, 2016.
- The Speaker In Waiting was House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), reputedly favorable to the PAST ACT. Apparently, Rep. McCarthy wasn’t ready for prime time. He didn’t make it half way through his 15 minutes of fame when he disclosed to the media that the impetus behind Republican “Benghazi Committee” was to discredit Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s and lower her poll numbers. That faux pas did it for Rep. McCarthy. His chances to be the next House Speaker were over before they really got started. He withdrew from Speaker consideration on October 8, 2015.
- It appeared for a while that nobody serving in the House would be the House Speaker, but finally on October 29, 2015, failed Republican VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to take it.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a newby. America’s first impression of Paul Ryan was when he faced VP Joe Biden in the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate. when , Ryan was GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate. It was a mismatch with Rep.Ryan being soundly trounced by his elder.
- Rep. Ryan has now become House Speaker in a Presidential Election year. Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, South Carolina Governor Nicki Haley delivered the Republican response which whacked the leading GOP Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Such are the times.
- So who knows how Speaker Ryan will conduct business.
- Rep. Ryan didn’t co-sponsor the PAST ACT in 2013 – 2014.
The current U. S. House party leaders are:
- Majority (Republican) Leader Kevin McCarthy)
- Majority (Republican) Whip Steve Scalise)
- Minority (Democratic) Leader Nancy Pelosi)
- Minority (Democratic) Whip Steny Hoyer)
Interestingly, none of the above four are PAST Act co-sponsors.
PAST ACT COMMITTEE REFERRAL
Upon being introduced 2015, the PAST ACT was referred to the House Energy & Committee Subcommittee –Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade. This is the same Committee to which the PAST Act was referred in 2013. At that time, PAST Act Sponsor Ed Whitfield was Chairman of the powerful Energy and Power Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. That gave Congressman Whitfield instant credibility with other members of PAST Act Subcommittee. Many of them are interested in Bills that were before Whitfield’s powerful Subcommittee, and prized his favorable influence.
Neither PAST Act Sponsor, Congressman Ted Yoho nor Congressman Kurt Schrader, are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
THE REP. MARSHA BLACBURN (R-TN) FACTOR
The Past Act’s nemesis in the House during the last session of Congress was the Vice Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Please understand that this is not a Subcommittee – it is THE COMMITTEE.
Adding to the PAST Act woes, as well as being Energy & Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) also serves on the Subcommittee, Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade.
In 2014, Rep. Blackburn used her influence as Vice Chairman of THE COMMITTEE to block the PAST ACT from getting a Subcommittee vote.
The PAST Act was referred by the House Speaker to the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee – Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
Here is the composition of the House Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade Subcommittee:
12 Republicans – 2 Past Act Co-Sponsors
8 Democrats – 5 Past Act Co-Sponsors
20 Votes – 7 Past Act Co-Sponsors
The Representatives circled in red have co-sponsored the PAST Act.
Currently, the PAST ACT has 239 Co-Sponsors, 154 Democrats and 85 Republicans.
If Speaker Paul Ryan insists upon the Hastert Rule being satisfied, then the PAST ACT will have to add 33 more Republicans – 118.
Past Act Sponsor Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) is a Tea Party Republican. He is serving his second term in Congress and will face a nominal Democrat opponent in 2016. So far, Rep. Yoho has not passed any major legislation. He is viewed as an ideologue. According to Wikipedia, “Yoho has described his views on voting as “radical”, advocating that only property owners should be allowed to vote. He stated that early absentee ballot voting is a “travesty”.
Summing up, to pass the House, the PAST ACT has to get a positive Subcommittee vote, and most likely, it will have to satisfy the Hastert Rule, and then Speaker Ryan will have to put it on the House Calendar for a Vote.
If it passes the House, then it will go to the Senate where U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the Senate Majority Leader.
The PAST ACT has NO chance of passing in the Senate, and being sent to the President to be signed and enacted into law, as long as Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the U. S. Senate Majority Leader.
Senator McConnell’s term runs through 2020.
Nephew Eugene says that Big Lick strategy, after taking grievous losses in 2015 due to the Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty, is to hang on and hope that a mainstream Republican wins the Presidency, and then appoints a Secretary of Agriculture sympathetic to the Big Lick.
The Big Lick has things bottled up inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C for the foreseeable future.
The place where the Big Lick is vulnerable and can be beaten in 2016 are the Southern states where the Big Lick Animal Cruelty is being perpetrated.
The Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty conclusively proved that in 2015.
PAST ACT ANALYSIS – PART II – WHAT CHANCE DOES THE PAST ACT HAVE TO BE BE ENACTED INTO LAW IN 2016??? – HSUS PROVIDES FALSE MISLEADING INFORMATION LAST WEEK ON KANSAS REPUBLICAN SENATOR JERRY MORAN (R-KS)