Tell Rep Sensenbrenner to Stop Holding Up The Anti-dog fighting bill

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Barked: Mon Oct 9, '06 11:12am PST 
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A bill to toughen penalties for cockfighting and dogfighting sponsored by Rep. Mark Green is being held up in the House Judiciary Committee by chairman and fellow Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner.

"I have spoken to Chairman Sensenbrenner and we don't agree on the importance of this issue," Green said in a statement. "Animal fighting is wrong, and we need to take steps to enhance penalties for those who do it."

However, Sensenbrenner, of Menomonee Falls, says Congress has too many other important priorities to worry about, such as border security, terrorist tribunals and wiretapping laws.

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2005 would increase the penalties for "buying, selling, delivering, or transporting" animals across state lines or from other countries for the purpose of fighting. The proposed legislation would change the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony, punishable by up to two years in jail.

Green's bill, which was first introduced on Feb. 15, 2005, has 324 co-sponsors in the House, nearly 75% of the body. The Senate passed the bill last year.

Green, a candidate for governor from Green Bay, said he was "committed to trying to get this bill passed as soon as possible" and he already had spoken with House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader John Boehner about getting the bill onto the House floor.

In a statement, Sensenbrenner said, "Animal fighting is an abhorrent practice but is best handled by those already working to combat its practice - state and local officials." However, the statement does not specifically say how he would vote on Green's bill.

Asked how the chairman would vote on the issue, Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, said he could not elaborate on the issue and referred reporters to Sensenbrenner's statement.

Cockfighting already is banned in every state except Louisiana and New Mexico, and dogfighting is banned in every state.

The bill's supporters are trying to bypass Sensenbrenner and bring the bill to the House floor under "suspension," a procedure that allows bills to come up for limited debate and requires a two-thirds vote for passage.

On Monday, the Humane Society of the United States appealed to Boehner to schedule a vote.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said that by not scheduling a vote on the bill in his committee, Sensenbrenner is "trying to kill this bill."

Pacelle said Sensenbrenner "may claim to be an opponent, but for whatever reason he is doing the bidding of the dogfighting and cockfighting industry," and he called Sensenbrenner's actions "unconscionable."

However, Sensenbrenner said that in light of so many other pressing issues, "trying to ram through animal-fighting legislation with these issues outstanding would win the prize for 'misplaced priorities.' "

Pacelle and many of the bill's supporters in Congress rejected Sensenbrenner's argument that Congress did not have the time to take up the issue. They argue that cockfighting is tied to many different kinds of illegal activity, including illegal immigration, money laundering and drug running.

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Boehner, said the bill will not be brought to the floor this week and that no decision had been made on scheduling a vote.

We need to flood Sensnebrenner's office with emails, letters, and phone calls urging him to stop doing the bidding of dogfighters and start making fighting these crimes a priority. If he's so concerned about drugs, security, and immigration then he needs to deal with this issue as it is tied to all of them.

Here is Representative Sensenbrenner's Contact Information

Washington Office:
2449 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4905
Phone: (202) 225-5101
Fax: (202) 225-3190

Main District Office:
120 Bishops Way, Ste. 154
Brookfield, WI 53005
Phone: (262) 784-1111
Fax: (262) 784-9437

Edited by author Mon Oct 9, '06 11:14am PST