Congressman Fights for Factory Farms and Dog Fighting
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is a parody of the kind of person who takes money from lobbyists in order to fight against animal protection. His big beef is with people who don’t eat enough animals, and his latest target is people who want to bring an end to dog-fighting.
King is considered the leading anti-animal protection person in Congress. (He even opposed the bill, post-Hurricane Katrina, that requires pets to be included in disaster planning).
And he doesn’t mind making stuff up to prove his point. Back in April, he told a town hall meeting in Iowa that he’d forced people testifying at a congressional hearing to “confess” that they were vegetarians. Except that he made this up. It was another member, Steve Kagen (D-Wisc.), who asked a Humane Society witness if he was a vegetarian.
All of this is part of King’s campaign to protect the meat industry. Earlier this month, in a classic midnight vote, he got an amendment attached to the 2012 farm bill aimed at stopping a California law banning the sale of eggs from hens living in tiny cages where they cannot spread their wings.
The purpose of the amendment is to sabotage a carefully negotiated agreement between the Humane Society of the U.S. and the egg farmers' trade association, the United Egg Producers, that would have led to legislation phasing in larger cages for egg-laying hens.
The amendment also stops another law from banning the sale of foie gras made using forced feeding.
King's move won a big thumbs-up from the National Pork Producers Council, which is afraid that the HSUS/UEP deal could lead to wider legislation of the meat industry, especially since dozens of restaurant and grocery chains are demanding, in the wake of several undercover investigations of factory farms, that their suppliers stop putting mother pigs in crates where they can't even turn around or lie down.
Three weeks ago, a fire killed 2,000 pigs at a factory in Kansas – which could have been prevented or minimized if sprinklers had been installed. But days earlier, the National Pork Producers Council had successfully wrecked efforts by the National Fire Protection Association to require sprinklers in newly constructed animal housing facilities.
Next, Rep. King took off after the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, complaining that the agency's endorsement of Meatless Mondays was "a slap in the face of the people who every day are working to make sure we have food on the table." Not that anyone was suggesting that the whole nation should go on a weekly fast; just that we take a day off to eat plant-based foods (which, incidentally, are produced by other farmers who are also working to put food on the table).
The USDA quickly backed down, announcing that "USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday."
And now Rep. King has gone completely off the reservation, defending the rights of Americans to enjoy dog fighting. At a TV town hall meeting last week, he explained his opposition to legislation that would make it a criminal offense to attend a dog fight.
“If it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people [who want to stop you from watching dogs fighting],” he said.
Last we knew, Rep. King, boxing and other human sports are conducted by people who make that choice. Dogs don't get to choose.
Here he is explaining his rationale:
Of course, Rep. King isn't doing any of this by accident. He can only do it because he's put in Congress by the voters, and the voters keep putting him there.