Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) today voted against H.R. 503, a Bill to Amend the Horse Protection Act.
H.R. 503 would amend the law already in effect, the Horse Protection Act, which was passed and enacted into law 30 years ago. However, the new bill has provisions and amendments that have far-reaching adverse consequences. These consequences include allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to seize and keep indefinitely any horse that has been "sored." "Sore" is defined in the law as including "any burn, cut, or laceration (that has been) inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse" and "any tack nail, screw, or chemical agent . . . injected by a person into or used by a person on any limb of a horse."
Therefore combining the definition of the current law with the extended prohibition in H.R. 503, USDA employees could have the power to seize the horses being used at horse shows, rodeos, state fairs exhibiting horses, and potentially parades because the horses' coats have been sprayed with a sheen, or horse shoes have been put on with nails or by making holes in their hooves, or the horse has ever been branded.
The bill authorizes an increase from $500,000 to $5 million for fiscal year 2007, and $22.5 million over the next five years, constituting a 900% increase in funding, to implement this extended USDA power. However, the Congressional Budget Office has unofficially stated that the cost to the taxpayer could actually exceed original estimates.
"Passage of this bill would no doubt cost taxpayer dollars, jobs, and potentially adversely affect the market for horses. My vote against this bill was a vote against increased federal government power and the potential taking by the government of healthy horses all over east Texas. It could have also spelled disaster for rodeos and other horse shows. Proponents of the bill had told me these provisions were not there, but when I read the proposed bill for myself with all the new amendments, I simply had to vote against the bill, though I greatly empathize with some of the concerns of the bill's advocates," Gohmert said.