WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following remarks today on the House floor:
"Mr. Speaker, I intend to support this bill - the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. But with that said, I really hope that the American people are tuning into this debate today. With all the pressing, critical issues that confront our nation, what is the one issue that has galvanized the attention of the United States House of Representatives this week? The Horse Slaughter Prevention Act!
"Now, I do not mean to make light of this legislation. But is this the issue that the American people expect their elected representatives to be considering at this moment?
"On Monday, we commemorate the fifth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in our nation's history. 9/11 is a day of remembrance and resolve. And, it also is a time to recognize that we are not as safe as we should be. Just today, the former Republican Speaker of this House, Newt Gingrich, wrote in The Wall Street Journal: 'Five years have passed since the horrific attack on our homeland, and, still, there is one serious, undeniable fact we have yet to confront: we are, today, not where we wanted to be and nowhere near where we need to be.'
"Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. This Congress has failed to enact the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. The nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran has increased. Afghanistan is backsliding. And, Iraq simmers in a low-grade civil war. And yet, we are focused on the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act?
"Last week, I joined more than 20 of my Democratic colleagues in visiting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast - areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina one year ago. We observed incredible courage and optimism on the part of citizens there. But we also saw an area that is still a shell of its former self. In New Orleans, nearly 60 percent of homes and businesses do not have electricity. Much of New Orleans lacks a dependable supply of potable water. And, only $44 billion of the $110 billion appropriated for rebuilding and assistance to victims has been spent. And yet, we are focused on the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act?
"While this body considers this legislation today, the Republican leadership refuses to allow an up-or-down vote on providing a long-overdue increase in the federal minimum wage - an increase that would benefit some 6.6 million workers. We have still not passed legislation that moves our nation toward energy independence; reforms our broken immigration system; addresses the fact that 46 million Americans do not have health insurance; fixes the Republicans flawed prescription drug program; and reforms our convoluted tax system.
"The legislation on the Floor today epitomizes this do less than the do-nothing Republican Congress. We need a new direction in our nation. Anyone who doubts that need only watch this debate on the floor today."