Congratulations -- on Our Gains from the vote AETA
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Commentary by Peter Muller, President of League of Humane Voters
November 2006

No - I’m not crazy (at least not any more than usual) – In spite of losing the vote to a sneaky procedural maneuver – we won more through this effort than through any other campaign in federal AR lobbying history.

We began our work on opposing AETA through the Equal Justice Alliance (founded by Alex Hershaft of FARM and myself, Peter Muller of the League of Humane Voters) in early October and were immediately supported by hundreds of diverse Animal Protective groups. In a very short time, we gathered and focused an Animal Rights political force that really had to be reckoned with by Congress and the industrial animal abusers who can (and did) out-spend us a thousand-fold.

Our first plan was to issue a strong, measured, rational response to Congress upon their reconvening on Monday November 13, 2006. The measure had been fast-tracked through the Senate with no opposition and we were not going to let that happen in the House. Monitoring the Congressional schedules, it looked on Thursday 11/9 and Friday 11/10 that no fast track or regular scheduling on AETA was contemplated until 12/4 at the earliest. We adjusted our scheduled actions accordingly.

On Friday 11/10, after hours (around 8:00pm) we were informed that AETA had been placed on the fast track calendar for Monday the 13th after hours. Everything had to be changed overnight. We immediately put out messages to various listservs, which urged AR activists spread the message to call their Representatives by and on Monday the 13th urging them to oppose AETA.

By Monday morning, we had gathered a team of twelve lobbyists from various groups including: Equal Justice Alliance, FARM, League of Humane Voters, Compassion Over Killing and various other groups as well as some unaffiliated individuals. While driving to our launch site we were informed that the proponents of AETA in the House has scheduled meeting to deal with our arguments. This was the first sign that they were no longer cock-sure that they could ram it through at will without opposition.

We walked the through the halls of the three office buildings that housed the Representatives each member of the team had a prioritized list in hand of members that had to be engaged. We reconvened for an interim debriefing around 1:00 o’clock. All lobbyist reported that the offices with whom they had made contact (about 10-12 each) had received a very high volume of calls from their constituents opposing AETA. This was true whether the Representative was inclined to vote for or against AETA – they all admitted to a high volume of constituent calls against AETA.

Through a procedural maneuver, which we will detail in a later post, the proponents of AETA were able to “debate” and vote on AETA with only six Representatives on the floor of the House. Dennis Kucinich from Ohio was the only representative who spoke against the measure (Please thank him with a call to his office Phone (202)225-5871).

Our Victory consists in being able to mobilize these many calls in such a short for a very significant impact on Congress. I’m sure that given one extra day and being a little more savvy of the procedural chicanery – we could have stopped it. Had it come to the House Calendar allowing full debate and amendment we could have beaten an industrial force that spent millions of dollars.

We have shown that we have the power to enact or stop federal legislative action. Let’s not lose it. The Equal Justice Alliance will post specific programmatic legislative and organization proposal shortly. Let’s use this loss to galvanize our resolve to win legislatively by acting in concert on federal legislation.

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