Last week, the House was tasked with passing a fairly routine appropriations bill—meaning, a piece of legislation that allows the federal government to stay open (vs. shut down). And pass it they did—but not before Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) slid in an amendment that would prohibit the Department of Justice from enforcing one of the most important bird protection laws in the nation.
We’re talking about Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which you may have heard of recently because U.S. Fish and Wildlife just announced they’re going to be updating how it’s enforced. But Duncan’s amendment would stop the MBTA dead in its tracks right now, by preventing the Department of Justice from actually enforcimg the critical law that saves millions of birds’ lives each year. Audubon VP of Government Relations Mike Daulton immediately christened Duncan’s addition the "Bird Killer Amendment,” noting that not only is it completely unnecessary, it would leave birds wide open to uncontrolled slaughter.
Here’s what you need to know about the bill:
It’s not a law yet.
Yes, the House has passed the bill with the amendment attached, but the legislation still has a long way to go before it’s made into a law. The Senate may not include the language in its version of the bill, and if it is passed with the amendment included, the executive branch can still veto the bill.
If passed, the amendment could hamstring the MBTA.
The MBTA is one of the oldest and most important laws on the books, when it comes to saving birds. But if it can’t be enforced, it can’t do much good.
“If Duncan’s amendment had been law during the BP disaster, those responsible for the largest marine oil spill in history would have faced no prosecution for causing the deaths of an estimated one million birds,” Daulton said. “Allowing this amendment to become law is tantamount to an avian slaughter free-for-all.”
(Want to know more about the MBTA and what it does? Check this out.)
You can help fight the Bird Killer Amendment.
Want to learn more?
Listen to Audubon's Town Hall to hear what Daulton has to say about keeping the act strong.