AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL — MAR. 8, 2013 — On March 6, the House passed their version of a six month Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through September, 2013. This bill ensures government agencies and programs will continue to operate for the next six months including those important to the horse industry like the U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA), which plays an important roll in combating contagious equine diseases. The CR also prohibits the Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing a new H-2B wage rule opposed by the AHC. Additionally, the CR would continue to fund USDA inspections at horse slaughter facilities if any were to open in the next six months.
Normally, Congress debates and approves several separate appropriation bills for each federal agency. However, Congress has failed to pass any FY2013 appropriations bills. The current CR that is funding the government will expire at the end of March. This bill is technically an extension of all the FY 2012 appropriations bills. However, because this bill does not get rid of “sequestration,” funding for most federal agencies and programs will be reduced by roughly 5% to 9%. Sequestration is the automatic across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect on March 1, 2013 that reduce government spending by $85 billion.
The CR would continue to prohibit the DOL from implementing a new wage rule for the H-2B program. The new wage rule is opposed by the American Horse Council (AHC) and other H-2B users because it would significantly increase the cost of using the program. More information on the wage rule can be found at: http://www.horsecouncil.org/regulations/h-2b-wage-rule.
Additionally, while no horse slaughter facilities are currently operating in the U.S., the CR would provide funding for USDA inspections if any facility were opened. For several years beginning in 2005 the USDA was prohibited from funding inspections at horse slaughter facilities, which prevented any such facility from operating in the U.S. In the FY 2012 USDA appropriations bill the prohibition on funding for USDA inspections was lifted. The CR is a continuation of that law and would allow USDA inspections of horse slaughter faculties to resume if any were to open.
This bill must now be passed by the Senate and signed by the President.