PREVENTING ANIMAL CRUELTY AND TORTURE ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 167
(House of Representatives - October 22, 2019)

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[Pages H8355-H8357]
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               PREVENTING ANIMAL CRUELTY AND TORTURE ACT

  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 724) to revise section 48 of title 18, United States Code, 
and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 724

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Preventing Animal Cruelty 
     and Torture Act'' or the ``PACT Act''.

     SEC. 2. REVISION OF SECTION 48.

       (a) In General.--Section 48 of title 18, United States 
     Code, is amended to read as follows:

     ``Sec. 48. Animal crushing

       ``(a) Offenses.--
       ``(1) Crushing.--It shall be unlawful for any person to 
     purposely engage in animal crushing in or affecting 
     interstate or foreign commerce or within the special maritime 
     and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
       ``(2) Creation of animal crush videos.--It shall be 
     unlawful for any person to knowingly create an animal crush 
     video, if--
       ``(A) the person intends or has reason to know that the 
     animal crush video will be distributed in, or using a means 
     or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce; or
       ``(B) the animal crush video is distributed in, or using a 
     means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.
       ``(3) Distribution of animal crush videos.--It shall be 
     unlawful for any person to knowingly sell, market, advertise, 
     exchange, or distribute an animal crush video in, or using a 
     means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.
       ``(b) Extraterritorial Application.--This section applies 
     to the knowing sale, marketing, advertising, exchange, 
     distribution, or creation of an animal crush video outside of 
     the United States, if--
       ``(1) the person engaging in such conduct intends or has 
     reason to know that the animal crush video will be 
     transported into the United States or its territories or 
     possessions; or
       ``(2) the animal crush video is transported into the United 
     States or its territories or possessions.
       ``(c) Penalties.--Whoever violates this section shall be 
     fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 7 years, 
     or both.
       ``(d) Exceptions.--
       ``(1) In general.--This section does not apply with regard 
     to any conduct, or a visual depiction of that conduct, that 
     is--
       ``(A) a customary and normal veterinary, agricultural 
     husbandry, or other animal management practice;
       ``(B) the slaughter of animals for food;
       ``(C) hunting, trapping, fishing, a sporting activity not 
     otherwise prohibited by Federal law, predator control, or 
     pest control;
       ``(D) medical or scientific research;
       ``(E) necessary to protect the life or property of a 
     person; or
       ``(F) performed as part of euthanizing an animal.
       ``(2) Good-faith distribution.--This section does not apply 
     to the good-faith distribution of an animal crush video to--
       ``(A) a law enforcement agency; or
       ``(B) a third party for the sole purpose of analysis to 
     determine if referral to a law enforcement agency is 
     appropriate.
       ``(3) Unintentional conduct.--This section does not apply 
     to unintentional conduct that injures or kills an animal.
       ``(4) Consistency with rfra.--This section shall be 
     enforced in a manner that is consistent with section 3 of the 
     Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb-
     1).
       ``(e) No Preemption.--Nothing in this section shall be 
     construed to preempt the law of any State or local 
     subdivision thereof to protect animals.
       ``(f) Definitions.--In this section--
       ``(1) the term `animal crushing' means actual conduct in 
     which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, 
     or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, 
     suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily 
     injury (as defined in section 1365 and including conduct 
     that, if committed against a person and in the special 
     maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, 
     would violate section 2241 or 2242);
       ``(2) the term `animal crush video' means any photograph, 
     motion-picture film, video or digital recording, or 
     electronic image that--
       ``(A) depicts animal crushing; and
       ``(B) is obscene; and
       ``(3) the term `euthanizing an animal' means the humane 
     destruction of an animal accomplished by a method that--
       ``(A) produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death 
     without evidence of pain or distress; or
       ``(B) uses anesthesia produced by an agent that causes 
     painless loss of consciousness and subsequent death.''.
       (b) Technical and Conforming Amendment.--The table of 
     sections for chapter 3 of title 18, United States Code, is 
     amended by striking the item relating to section 48 and 
     inserting the following:

``48. Animal crushing.''.

     SEC. 3. DETERMINATION OF BUDGETARY EFFECTS.

       The budgetary effects of this Act, and the amendments made 
     by this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory 
     Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference 
     to the latest statement titled ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO 
     Legislation'' for this Act, submitted for printing in the 
     Congressional Record by the Chairman of the House Budget 
     Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted 
     prior to the vote on passage.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Florida (Mr. Deutch) and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. 
Reschenthaler) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida.


                             General Leave

  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include 
extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Florida?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 724, the Preventing 
Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or the PACT Act.
  I give special thanks to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Buchanan), 
my colleague. He is a longstanding friend of animals in Congress, and I 
am thrilled that he agreed to introduce this bill with me to create a 
Federal law punishing those who abuse animals.
  I also would like to acknowledge Congressman Holding and the hard 
work by groups like the Humane Society and Humane Rescue Alliance, who 
have helped collect 290 bipartisan cosponsors for this bill. There are 
so many groups and people from across the country who have supported 
this

[[Page H8356]]

bill--people like Lisa Vanderpump, who added her passion and commitment 
to animals to our effort, and groups who rescue animals, literally, in 
every corner of our country every single day.
  I would also acknowledge and thank one person in particular, Mr. 
Speaker--a high school student, one who is so committed to helping 
animals, caring for animals, that when she learned about the PACT Act, 
she started an online petition hoping to collect a few thousand 
signatures. That petition urging Congress to pass this bill gathered 
over 729,000 signers. And I am thrilled that that young activist, 
Sydney Helfand, is with us in the gallery today.
  Now, of all the divisive issues here in Washington, the PACT Act is 
one on which we can all agree, we must make animal abuse a Federal 
crime. This bill has received so much bipartisan support, because 
Americans care about animal welfare. We form deep relationships with 
our companion animals and are rightfully outraged by cases of animal 
abuse. Animal rights activities stand up for living things that do not 
have a voice. That is what the PACT Act does.
  Americans expect their law enforcement agencies to crack down on this 
horrific violence against animals, and law enforcement officers agree, 
which is why the PACT Act has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of 
Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, the Association of 
Prosecuting Attorneys, and local law enforcement agencies across the 
country. They have asked for this Federal law to bolster their efforts 
to target animal abusers, because they understand the direct link 
between animal abuse and violent crimes. This link is why the FBI now 
collects data on acts of cruelty against animals for their criminal 
database, right alongside felony crimes like assault and homicide.
  When I first came to Congress, one of the first bills I voted on was 
the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, a bill that passed nearly 
unanimously and that it made it a crime to create or distribute animal 
crush videos, which depict horrific acts against animals.
  This bill today takes the next logical step and criminalizes those 
acts underlying that crime as well.
  The Senate passed the PACT Act by unanimous consent in the last two 
Congresses, and I am proud the House is finally doing its part to pass 
this important legislation. Today, anyone who inflicts serious bodily 
injury on animals will be committing an act for which they should be 
condemned. When the PACT Act passes, they will also be violating 
Federal law.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the PACT Act, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair would remind Members to avoid 
referencing occupants of the gallery.
  Mr. RESCHENTHALER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 724, the bipartisan Preventing 
Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or the PACT Act, introduced by 
Representative Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan.
  In 2017, Pennsylvania passed Libre's Law, which increased penalties 
for animal abuse. I was honored to help push that legislation over the 
finish line in the Pennsylvania State Senate. I am proud to once again 
help pass legislation that will better protect our Nation's animals.
  In 2010, Congress passed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act to 
address the trade in obscene videos of live animals being crushed, 
burned, or subjected to other forms of heinous cruelty. While this was 
an important first step, the law only bans the trade in video 
depictions of cruelty, not the underlying act of cruelty itself.
  The PACT Act addresses this gap by prohibiting the underlying acts of 
animal cruelty that occur on Federal property or affect interstate 
commerce, regardless of whether a video is produced.
  As a former district judge, I served on the frontlines of our 
judicial system. I witnessed firsthand the connection between animal 
cruelty and violence toward people. In fact, the FBI recently 
recognized that addressing animal cruelty is critical to protecting our 
communities.
  The PACT Act would give Federal law enforcement and prosecutors the 
tools they need to combat extreme animal cruelty. This bill would give 
the FBI the authority to act against animal cruelty that is discovered 
while investigating another interstate crime, such as drug smuggling or 
human trafficking.
  The PACT Act would not interfere with enforcement of State laws 
related to felony animal cruelty provisions. The legislation focuses 
solely on extreme acts of animal cruelty and exempts normal agriculture 
and hunting practices.
  The PACT Act is endorsed by the National Sheriffs' Association, the 
Fraternal Order of Police, and the Association of Prosecuting 
Attorneys, as well as more than 100 law enforcement agencies.
  And in the Senate, the PACT Act is sponsored by my good friend, 
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, and it passed in both the 114th and 
the 115th Congresses by unanimous consent. In the House, it currently 
has more than 300 bipartisan cosponsors.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the PACT Act so we can 
better protect our Nation's animals from abuse and torture. I reserve 
the balance of my time.
  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Iowa (Mrs. Axne).
  Mrs. AXNE. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representatives Deutch and Buchanan 
for this bill. I am very excited to be able to vote for it today.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the PACT Act, and am grateful for 
the support that it has. As a longtime animal lover and advocate, and 
somebody who worked to take care of the puppy mill issues that we have 
in my own State of Iowa, I know more than anybody that there is nothing 
like bringing animals to the forefront that brings people together.
  This is absolutely a bipartisan issue. And while the Animal Crush 
Video Prohibition Act prohibits trade in obscene video depictions of 
live animals being tortured, as Representative Deutch said, the bill 
did nothing to prohibit the underlying conduct of the cruelty itself. 
This is what the PACT Act does.
  It strengthens the animal crush video law by prohibiting animal 
cruelty, regardless of whether a video is produced. There is documented 
connection between animal cruelty and violence to people. In fact, 
studies show animal abusers are five times more likely to commit 
violent crimes against people, and it is linked to domestic violence, 
as well as child and elder abuse.
  The PACT Act gives Federal law enforcement and prosecutors the tools 
they need to combat extreme animal cruelty and to protect our 
communities at the same time. Whether it is the veterinarian in my own 
State of Iowa--ranked 49th when it comes to animal welfare laws--who 
was recently arrested for debarking dogs by shoving rod-like objects 
into their vocal chambers without anesthesia, or whether it is in my 
neighboring State of Nebraska, where a man was recently accused of 
severely burning a cat by holding it under water, scalding hot water, 
across this country, people are torturing animals and it absolutely has 
to stop.
  So tomorrow, on Make a Dog's Day, which is in support of encouraging 
dog adoption, let's do these companion animal friends of ours one 
better by a unanimous vote for the PACT Act today and put an end to the 
horrible acts of cruelty that should not be allowed in this country.
  Mr. RESCHENTHALER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman 
from Pennsylvania (Mr. Fitzpatrick), my good friend.
  Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I join with my bipartisan colleagues here to proclaim 
that animal abuse is unacceptable and must end, which is why we are all 
proud to be supporters, and many of us, original cosponsors of the PACT 
Act because it strengthens Federal law regarding animal cruelty.

                              {time}  1645

  As was previously mentioned, the Animal Crush Video Act of 2010 
banned the creation and distribution of these despicable videos. 
However, it did not make the actual animal abuse itself a crime.

[[Page H8357]]

  The bipartisan PACT Act goes a step further and outlaws this 
malicious animal cruelty, regardless of the presence of video evidence.
  Mr. Speaker, as a former FBI agent, my agency's profiling studies 
demonstrated how violence against animals is a precursor to human 
violence. That is why we are fighting aggressively against egregious 
animal cruelty and why it is so important.
  Law enforcement, including the FOP, strongly supports this 
legislation because it provides another tool for them to use for animal 
abuse cases that might otherwise go unprosecuted.
  More than 100 law enforcement agencies and organizations across our 
country have endorsed the PACT Act. We must come together and stand up 
for innocent, defenseless animals, which is why there are over 300--in 
fact, 301, to be exact--cosponsors, both Democrats and Republicans, on 
this bill.
  I commend Senator Toomey, our colleague from Pennsylvania, for 
introducing the companion bill in the Senate. We must pass the PACT Act 
as soon as possible so that it can be signed into law, and we must make 
sure that this type of animal abuse no longer happens.
  Together, we will end all types of animal cruelty and will continue 
to be a voice for the voiceless.
  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer), the chairman of the Congressional Animal 
Protection Caucus, an original cosponsor of the PACT Act, and a great 
voice for animals and animal rights.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy 
and his leadership on this issue.
  Mr. Speaker, it is a breath of fresh air for us in these sort of, 
shall we say, troubled times in our Nation's Capital, when there is so 
much discord and disagreement, and it seems we can't really agree on 
fundamental facts: Is today Tuesday or Wednesday?
  Animal welfare is one of those issues that brings people together on 
a bipartisan basis.
  I am pleased that the bipartisan Congressional Animal Welfare Caucus 
has been involved in advancing this. Animal cruelty has been an area in 
which I have been involved since the beginning of my tenure in 
Congress. We fought, in farm bills, for years to try to advance 
protections against animal cruelty.
  I am pleased that we are here today dealing with something where 
Congress has already acted to make these provisions illegal. But what 
we haven't done is make it illegal to depict these horrific crush 
videos.
  It was horrifying, when we brought that legislation to the floor, for 
people to understand what some sick, sadistic people do in portraying 
these horrific acts of cruelty. What we find is that it is linked to 
larger issues.
  People who abuse animals are often linked to horrific instances of 
violence against their family and community. It is dehumanizing to us 
all, as well as, of course, the cruelty that is involved there.
  We need to enact this legislation to make the actual creation of the 
depiction of the animals being abused illegal.
  For example, the PACT Act would allow for charges to be brought 
against a puppy mill operator who is drowning unwanted animals if he is 
engaged in interstate activity. It would take strides to protect our 
overall communities from violent crime.
  I would hope that this would also signal more activity on the floor 
of this House because we have a range of legislation that is teed up 
and ready to go that has broad, bipartisan support.
  I appreciate the fact that we are getting 290, or whatever the number 
is, but life is short. We ought to be able to move these items with 
broad, bipartisan support to the floor.
  We shouldn't necessarily be here just renaming post offices on a 
Monday. I mean, these are substantive issues that matter to people. We 
ought to be moving them through. I think this is an important first 
step, and I am pleased to add my support to it.
  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Ms. Stevens).
  Ms. STEVENS. Mr. Speaker, we are standing here today in support of 
the PACT Act, to make it a crime to commit abuse that has already been 
detected in videos or the videos that we have made illegal.
  We need to render the acts illegal. We need to enforce detection. We 
need to support enforcement writ large. We need to stand up for the 
rights of animals and stand up against animal cruelty.
  I come from the great State of Michigan, and this is something that I 
have heard from my residents from all corridors throughout my district.
  We are home to great equine farms as well as other establishments 
that care for animals, and that is a message that we want to put 
forward. We want to stop animal abuse on the front end and also stop 
other forms of domestic abuse that may arise from it.
  I led the Department of Justice appropriations process that directs 
the use of Department of Justice funds to enforce our Nation's animal 
cruelty laws. Today, with the PACT Act, we are realizing another 
important step in protecting the rights of animals and in stopping 
abuse before it starts.
  Mr. RESCHENTHALER. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' 
on H.R. 724, the PACT Act, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, we should do everything we can to prevent 
the torture of animals and take steps to hold accountable those who 
would engage in such horrific acts.
  The PACT Act is a significant Federal measure to help put an end to 
the abuse of animals.
  I am thankful to be on the House floor at this incredibly gratifying 
bipartisan moment, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting 
this bipartisan bill.
  Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge every companion 
animal that has brought love to my staff members since the PACT Act was 
first introduced. Those would be Thomas Jefferson, Desi, Stella, Dock, 
Bubba, Maple, Hazel, Cheech, Ollie, Frodo, Theo, Johnson Tiki, 
Tankford, Littleman, Natale, Enzo, Dino, Virgil, Rooney, Maybeline, 
Prudence, Peppermint, Nazca, Poseidon, Gus, Sansa, Tony, Dwyane Wade, 
and my dearly departed Jessie.
  For all of them and for every animal who brings joy to everyone in 
this Chamber, let's do our part to prevent animal cruelty and torture, 
and let's pass the PACT Act.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Florida (Mr. Deutch) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 724, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________