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Democrats support shark conservation, Republicans do not

I’ve written about the Shark Conservation Act several times. Though it passed the House of Representatives, it keeps stalling in the Senate, and bills need to be passed by both in order to become law. The SCA would close many existing loopholes in United States shark management policy, and is endorsed by many conservation organizations.

Embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) attempted to get the Senate to vote on the SCA and a series of other related conservation legislation last night, but Republicans blocked the move.

From the Congressional newspaper “The Hill”:

“Reid asked for unanimous consent to approve the Crane Conservation Act, marine mammals rescue assistance legislation, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, the Shark Conservation Act and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act. All of the bills have already passed the House. “Today we have the opportunity to help a great number of species,” Reid said in an impassioned plea for the bills on Tuesday evening.”

Republican leader Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected to these votes.

““The problems that are facing this country are so big and so massive that our attention ought to be focused on those large problems, not on five separate bills that have been proffered for special interest groups.” Coburn said the bills would add to the federal deficit at a time “when our economy is languishing because we continue to grow the federal government.”

Updating existing policies to close loopholes is “growing the federal government”? Really? None of these laws give the government any significant new power. They modify existing authority to make it actually function. Updating such laws is extremely common.

The deficit is indeed a problem, and I agree that our elected leaders should focus on it. However, it’s not the only problem, and it’s absurd to claim that we should abandon everything except trying to fix the deficit. The United States government, though far from perfect, has been a world leader in conservation legislation for decades. We can’t abandon these worthy priorities just because we have other problems as well.

It is worth noting that Harry Reid has a mostly-correct understanding of shark finning.

“Reid noted the Shark Conservation Act would improve federal enforcement of an existing prohibition on the harvesting of shark fins.“Because of a loophole in the existing law, animals are still caught, their fins are severed and the dismembered shark is thrown back in the ocean to die,” said Reid. “But they don’t die. They suffer a horrible and protracted death. All that cruelty for a bowl of soup.”’

I think that he meant to say that “they don’t die quickly” and not “they don’t die”, but still, I’m pleasantly surprised that the Senate Majority leader got it mostly right.

I would like to thank Dr. Coburn, for continuing to make it clear that despite all of the failures of the Democratic party, voters who care at all about the environment really only have one choice in our elections.

Dr. Tom Coburn, R-OK Image Courtesy AOLNews.com