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Your Action Needed: House Appropriations Process Again Favors Animal Rights Activists

NABR members will remember that last year Congress, being divided politically between a Democratic House and Republican Senate, struggled to pass critical appropriations bills until the eleventh hour.


Your Action Needed: House Appropriations Process Again Favors Animal Rights Activists


NABR members will remember that last year Congress, being divided politically between a Democratic House and Republican Senate, struggled to pass critical appropriations bills until the eleventh hour. In those House bills, initially, were both bill language and report language that attacked animal research. Thankfully, NABR and other advocacy partners worked hard to eliminate or moderate bad language before those appropriations bills passed.

The appropriations process for FY2021 is currently ongoing. And again, this year House appropriators seem to have given animal rights activists carte blanche to include both legislative language and report language despite early and vigorous engagement by many scientific advocacy groups opposing this kind of activism.

This means NABR members, advocacy partners, and individual researchers will again need to pressure appropriators to strip animal rights legislative and report language out of the FY21 bills. Your action is needed urgently. Our take action link is quick, easy, and contains a pre-written message that automatically connects you with your Representatives and Senators. We encourage you to personalize the email and/or tweet, but it is not required. This quick link will help your voice be heard in Congress on this critical issue.

It is important to note there is a difference between bill language and report language. Report language does not hold the same force of law as bill language, however federal agencies often treat it as such and often the general public and journalists treat it as legislation. Furthermore, animal rights activists fundraise off successfully inserting report language, sometimes going so far as erroneously claiming report language is legislation. Below are legislative and report language NABR is opposing.

House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon VA) legislative language:

“SEC. 246. (a) Except as provided by subsection (b), none of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to purchase, breed, transport, house, feed, maintain, dispose of, or experiment on, dogs as part of the conduct of any study including an assignment of pain category D or E, as defined by the Pain and Distress Categories of the Department of Agriculture (or such successor categories developed pursuant to section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2143)).

(b) Subsection (a) shall not apply to training programs or studies of service dogs described in section 1714 of title 38, United States Code, or section 17.148 of title 38, Code of Federal Regulations."

House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) report language:

“Post-Research Adoption of Animals in Extramural Research. — The Committee commends NIH and other agencies for instituting policies and procedures to facilitate the placement of animals no longer needed for research with families or nonprofit shelters or sanctuaries. This is a far more humane and less wasteful practice than euthanizing otherwise healthy animals. The Committee notes, however, that the NIH policy covers only NIH intramural research. Animals used in NIH funded extramural research also should not be needlessly euthanized at the end of the experiment if they are determined to be healthy enough to be adopted or retired. The Committee encourages NIH to require grantees receiving extramural funds from NIH for research using animals to implement post research adoption policies that are at least as comprehensive as the NIH intramural policy. The committee requests that NIH provide a written update on this effort within one year of enactment of this Act.”

“Animal Use in Research. —The Committee is aware that in September 2019, GAO issued a report entitled ‘‘Animal Use in Research: Federal Agencies Should Assess and Report on Their Efforts to Develop and Promote Alternatives.’’ The Committee understands that this report found that the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) and its member agencies have not routinely developed or reported metrics to demonstrate how their efforts to encourage the use of alternative methods affect animal use in research. The Committee acknowledges NIEHS for having helped establish a workgroup of ICCVAM member agencies to identify potential quantitative and qualitative metrics that could provide data for comprehensively assessing progress of agencies toward reducing, refining, and replacing animal use in research. The Committee is aware that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has committed to eliminate its requests for, and funding of, whole and live animal studies by 2035. The Committee therefore directs this workgroup to actively collaborate with EPA to determine where replacement alternatives to animal testing are lacking, to ensure any gaps in currently available methods to replace animal testing are filled before 2035. The Committee directs that interagency workgroup to report its findings to the Committee by 2022 and use these metrics to assess progress in using alternative methods at EPA, and other agencies that are part of ICCVAM, in ICCVAM’s required biennial report to be issued in 2024.” 

“Humane Research Alternatives.—Recognizing that humane, cost effective, and scientifically suitable non-animal methods are available but underutilized, the Committee requests that NIH assemble a panel to investigate and make recommendations regarding incentives for more quickly and effectively moving NIH intramural and external research away from methods that rely on animals to methods that rely on non-animal alternatives. The panel should review and recommend means of encouraging greater reliance on existing humane and scientifically satisfactory non-animal methods. Panel membership should include individuals with proven knowledge of experience with non-animal research methods; with expertise in evaluating the adequacy of searches for non-animal methods described in research proposals; and with knowledge of the welfare concerns and scientific limitations of animal-based studies. The Committee asks that NIH provide a report of the panel’s findings by June 2022.” 

 “Intramural Primate Research. —The Committee remains concerned about NIH’s intramural use of nonhuman primates in biomedical research and continues to urge NIH to accelerate efforts to identify more efficient and effective alternatives to nonhuman primate research. The Committee directs NIH to provide a report to the Committee no later than one year after enactment that outlines a plan to implement more efficient and effective alternatives to nonhuman primate research activities, describes how these alternatives have reduced intramural research using nonhuman primates by December 31, 2025, and outlines a plan for retirement of primates no longer needed in intramural research” 

 “NIH Chimp Retirements to Chimp Haven.—The Committee is aware that NIH has a statutory duty under the CHIMP Act (42 U.S.C. 283m) to retire all surplus chimpanzees to the national sanctuary system, and NIH’s stated plan to now keep the chimpanzees at Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) instead of moving them to Chimp Haven goes against the intent of Congress. While NIH cites the health condition of the chimpanzees as a reason to warehouse them at APF, it is because of their health and long history of laboratory use that makes it urgent they be provided an opportunity to live the remainder of their lives in sanctuary, even if for a short period. This is not only a concern about chimp welfare, but also taxpayer spending. According to the most recent APF contract, it costs approximately $133 per day per chimpanzee to keep them at APF compared to $42 per chimpanzee per day at Chimp Haven. The APF costs will continue to increase as the population declines while Chimp Haven costs will decline as their population increases. Therefore, recognizing the best interests of both the chimps and taxpayer costs, the Committee strongly encourages the NIH to reconsider transport of all APF chimpanzees to Chimp Haven. Movement of government-owned and supported chimps from Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) and Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research (KCCMR) should immediately follow transport of the APF chimpanzees to Chimp Haven. The Committee also directs NIH to provide updates to the Committee each quarter, beginning no later than December 31, 2020 that shall include: (1) the number of chimpanzees transported to the national sanctuary over the last quarter; (2) a census of all government-owned and supported chimpanzees remaining, if any, at APF, SNPRC or KCCMR; and (3) a list of any chimpanzee deaths that have occurred at any time after January 1, 2020 at either APF, SNPRC or KCCMR.

“Academic and Non-Profit Institutional Research Using Human Ocular Tissue from Not-for-Profit Eye Banks. —Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and impacts some 15 million people in the U.S., with an estimated 200,000 new cases annually. The Committee is aware that, due to the high cost of human ocular tissue, many academic researchers resort to using animal tissue when studying diseases and conditions of the eye. This is problematic as animal tissue is not a perfect equivalent to human tissue, and certain diseases, such as macular degeneration, are not present in animal tissue. The Committee encourages NEI to consider establishing an ocular tissue program to achieve cost savings and facilitate critical ocular research utilizing tissue provided by non-profit organizations to academic and other not-for-profit research entities. Such a program could facilitate critical research to eradicate the debilitating impact of macular degeneration and other ocular disorders”.

“Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Research Models. —In recent years, more Duchenne drug trials have failed than succeeded despite promising results from pre-clinical animal models. These results lead to years of inefficient drug development and few approved treatments. The Committee urges NIH to convene a multistakeholder workshop to evaluate pre-clinical animal models used frequently in muscular dystrophy treatment research, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and to consider whether alternative models or strategies may improve therapy development outcomes”.

“Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS). —MPS diseases are inherited, with death occurring for many in early childhood. This systematic disease causes progressive damage to the bones, heart, respiratory system, and brain. The Committee continues to urge NIH, particularly NCATS and NINDS, to put a high priority on better understanding and treating MPS and mucolipidosis diseases. The Committee also commends NIH for allocating funds to discover, develop, define, and make available for research animal models of human genetic disease. The Committee encourages expanded research of treatments for neurological, inflammatory, cardiovascular, and skeletal manifestations of MPS, with an emphasis on gene therapy. The Committee thanks NINDS, NIDDK, and ORDR for again funding the Lysosomal Disease Network (LDN) through the Rare Disease Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) and for funding lysosomal research meetings. The Committee encourages the NIH to incentivize MPS research. Understanding the manifestations and treatments of both the skeletal and neurological disease continues to be the greatest areas of unmet needs”.

House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Ag) report language:

"Animal Research.—The Committee directs ARS to ensure that each of its facilities housing animals is adhering to the Animal Welfare Act at all times and to submit quarterly reports that include both all violations found by APHIS during that quarter and the specific actions that will be taken to prevent their recurrence."

"Animal Care Program.—The Committee is deeply concerned by how the Animal Care program is being managed. To address these concerns, the Committee directs Animal Care to ensure that each noncompliance observed by a USDA inspector under the Animal Welfare Act, is documented on an inspection report. "

"Inspection Reports.—The bill provides $31,772,000 for the Animal Welfare program in order to ensure that minimum standards of care and treatment are provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.

This level includes funding to support the agreement between APHIS and ARS, under which APHIS conducts compliance inspections of ARS facilities to ensure compliance with the regulations and standards of the Animal Welfare Act. The Committee directs APHIS to conduct inspections of all such ARS facilities and to post the resulting inspection reports online in their entirety without redactions except signatures. The Committee continues to direct APHIS to transmit to the Committees all inspection reports involving ARS facilities, including pre-compliance inspections. These facilities involve federal funds over which this Committee has oversight responsibilities. APHIS is directed to include every violation its inspectors find and never to frustrate the Committee’s oversight activities by using so-called ‘‘teachable moments’’’ or other means of not reporting ARS facility violations."

"Animal Testing. —The Committee is encouraged by FDA efforts to develop alternatives to the use of live dogs in veterinary drug testing and allow drug sponsors to use these alternative non-animal tests in regulatory submissions. The Committee urges the FDA to expand on these efforts and provide not later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act a report on current FDA policies and procedures that allow the submission, consideration, and approval of drug safety data obtained using human-relevant alternative test methods and on the processes by which stakeholders and Congress are notified of proposed changes to FDA animal testing requirements before and after implementation. "

"Human-Based Nonclinical Approaches. —The Committee is aware that nonclinical approaches that do not involve use of animals to evaluate new pharmaceuticals are being developed and might better predict some human outcomes and reduce animal testing. The Committee directs FDA to review and modify its regulations to clearly reflect the FDA’s discretion to accept valid nonclinical approaches. The Committee also directs FDA to consider expanding its Drug Development Tools Qualification Program to include a program for evaluating and integrating in vitro computational approaches. The Committee requests FDA report back on steps taken not later than September 30, 2021. "

Again, it is important to note that while the majority of this language is report language and does not hold the same force of law as bill text, it provides animal rights activists precedents for future bill language. In fact, the report language above should be considered by all in the animal research community as a very public “wish list” for future animal rights legislative language should the make up of Congress change in future elections.

Please take the time to contact Congress with our easy-to-use link and share this link with your colleagues as well! The full link is available here: