Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) reintroduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act in the 116th Congress on Jan. 22. The bill has been renamed the “Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics Act.”  The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the bill number is H.R. 693.

Co-sponsors on the bill include Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ron Estes (R-KS), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Chris Collins (R-NY). Other than Cohen, who is from Tennessee, the bill sponsors represent areas of the country with little to no Tennessee Walking Horse competitions. The PAST Act was originally introduced in 2013 by Rep. Ed Whitfield with direct involvement from the Humane Society of the United States, where Whitfield’s wife was employed.

The involvement of the HSUS with Whitfield led to ethics violations against the Kentucky congressman and he later decided not to run for reelection. The industry has filed competing legislation to the PAST Act in previous Congresses and will do so again in the 116th Congress.

The PAST Act, which was originally written and choreographed by the HSUS, would eliminate the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and its competitions. The bill seeks to ban pads, weighted shoes and actions devices, despite no scientific evidence that any of the equipment currently used causes any harm to Tennessee Walking Horses.  

The bill would also ban industry regulatory entities, called Horse Industry Organizations, that currently work in conjunction with the USDA on enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. The PAST Act would put the total enforcement responsibility on the USDA and drive the costs for inspections higher and thereby be a major detriment to competitions. 

The industry alternative to the PAST Act would create independent enforcement that works in conjunction with the USDA to incorporate objective, scientific inspection methods that eliminate soring and those individuals that do any harm to the horse. The industry bill would allow competitions to continue but would also incorporate stiff penalties to deter non-compliance with the Horse Protection Act.