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Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018

Floor Speech

Date: May 18, 2018
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Chair, I am thankful for the opportunity to express my strong opposition to the amendment.

It is deeply unfair to the United States Territories and contrary to the original intent of the Federal law in question: the Animal Welfare Act amendment, under which States have always been defined to include the territories.

First, the characterization of this amendment is closing a loophole and bringing the territories in with the States is highly misleading. The Animal Welfare Act adequately addresses interstate and foreign commerce of fowl for gaming purposes. The intent of the Federal law in this area has always been to aid States and other local law enforcement in jurisdictions where gamefowl events are illegal, and to prohibit the transport of animals from areas where they are, in fact, allowed.

The reason that there is a ban in all 50 States is not because of Federal law, but because of States' laws, and those States have banned them in their States. So for the Federal Government to impose that on the territories at this time, I believe, is deeply unfair. This is a highly regulated, cultural, and historic activity in the territories.

Let's not forget that the real author of this bill is The Humane Society which--when the Federal Government gets into this--becomes a slippery slope, as The Humane Society also wants to ban sporting activities or hunting activities in which animals hunt another animal. Is the gentleman from Illinois going to then offer an amendment to stop dogs who assist humans in looking for ducks and in other places? No.

But all of the territories' Delegates are against this amendment. And for someone from another State to offer an amendment to restrict something in the U.S. territories is deeply unfair.

At the last hearing of the committee in which this issue was addressed, which was nine sessions ago, The Humane Society also testified that legislation at State level should be the proper fora to ultimately decide whether fowl gaming is permitted within those State's borders. And, again, States also meaning territories.

I agree, and so should this body. If only they were true to their word--and the gentleman from Illinois agreed with them--and the well- documented legislative history, we wouldn't be here. And hopefully, we would be talking about much more important matters--matters related to the farm bill, such as SNAP, such as school lunches, such as subsidies to our farmers.

Those are the things that should be in this farm bill, not this legislation.

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Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Chair, I would hope that in the future, Congressman Roskam, the gentleman from Illinois, as well as Mr. Blumenauer would consider that no law should be different for the States and the territories, to allow the territories' people to be treated the same as the States.

Mr. Chair, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Guam (Ms. Bordallo).

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Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Chair, once again, you have heard the opposition to this at this time.

The characterization that it is closing a loophole, as I said, is misleading. I think it is important to understand what is going to happen if this is, in fact, made law, that this will drive this underground, and it will criminalize what has happened. Many individuals will become criminals at engaging in this activity.

If individuals are truly concerned with the territories, I would ask them to cosponsor legislation that helps people in the Virgin Islands and allows them to be treated fairly and not to be cruel to us with the cap on Medicaid.

I would ask that they would cosponsor much of the legislation that many of the delegates have offered up to support the people who live in the Virgin Islands as well.

Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.

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