The Journal Gazette
Friday, September 18, 2020 1:00 am

Braun targets animal abuse in latest bill

Directs Justice Department to prosecute cases

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., is among federal lawmakers who have introduced bipartisan legislation that would direct the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute animal abuse.

Braun and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., are sponsors of the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, a companion bill to legislation introduced last month in the House by two Democrats and two Republicans.

The legislation would establish an Animal Cruelty Crimes Division at the Justice Department and require the department to report yearly on the enforcement of animal cruelty laws.

“America has recently taken big steps to crack down on animal cruelty with new laws to protect animals from torture and abuse, but we need further action to ensure these laws are being enforced across the country and track our progress in eradicating animal cruelty,” Braun said Wednesday in a statement announcing the Senate bill.

In recent years, President Donald Trump has enacted a series of laws that aim to reduce animal abuse. They include last year's Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, which carries a seven-year prison sentence for intentionally causing serious harm to animals.

“We need to make sure laws related to serious negligence and cruelty toward animals are clear and enforceable, and that the Department of Justice has the dedicated resources it needs to prosecute them,” Whitehouse said in a statement.

Original co-sponsors of the bill are Sens. John Kennedy, R-La.; Martha McSally, R-Arizona; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Animal Wellness Action, which promotes legal standards forbidding cruelty to animals, said it supports the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act.

“Our nation has an epidemic of rampant dogfighting and cockfighting, bestiality, the sale of animal crush videos, horse soring, and other forms of extreme exploitation,” Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, said Thursday in a statement.

“A new Animal Cruelty Crimes section would allow the United States to do more to combat cruelty and complement efforts of the states and local governments in sending a signal that malicious mistreatment of animals won't be tolerated in our nation.”

Young's bills

Indiana's senior senator, Republican Todd Young, introduced three bills this week.

The Bringing Enhanced Treatments and Therapies to ESRD Recipients (BETTER) Kidney Care Act would expand treatment options for Medicare patients suffering end-stage renal disease. Young said in a statement that his legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., “will result in better health outcomes and will help save lives.”

The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act introduced by Young and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., would codify the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreaking mission on the Great Lakes and increase the icebreaking capacity of its fleet.

“Roughly 28% of our nation's annual economic output comes from the Great Lakes region, and our legislation will enable us to expand capacity to ship goods, create jobs, and strengthen the economy in Indiana and other Great Lake states,” Young said in a statement.

Young and Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., introduced the Small Manufacturer Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, which they said would authorize the Defense Department to provide financial assistance to public-private Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers for cybersecurity services to help small manufacturers in the defense supply chain.

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