Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid blocked a vote on Thursday on a bill that would outlaw the distribution of videos depicting acts of animal cruelty.
The bill, called called the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT), was introduced by Pennsylvania Sen. Toomey, a Republican. Co-sponsored by Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, the bill would make it a federal crime to distribute videos showing animals being maimed or tortured.
Toomey asked for consent to bypass the Senate Judiciary Committee and vote directly on the bill, but Reid stood in the way.
“I reserve my right to object,” the Nevada Democrat said on the floor.
“It’s stunning that my friend from Pennsylvania would come to the floor and abandon all the principles that we’ve heard that the new Republican majority wants to do in the Senate,” said Reid. “First of all, how about holding a hearing? No hearing on this bill.”
Reid then launched into one of his trademark diatribes about Senate gridlock, accusing Republicans of unfairly blocking votes on various bills as well as the confirmation of Merrick Garland, the federal appeals court judge nominated by President Obama for the Supreme Court.
“We’ve had six months to deal with something that’s vitally important to Americans for sure,” Reid said. “How about having a full Supreme Court?”
“We’re happy to consider legislation, all kinds of legislation,” said Reid. “But to pick and choose what they’re going to do, leaving volumes of work undone in the Senate…is something that is incredulous. So, I think it would be a good idea before you rush ahead on legislation that’s had no hearing that we have a hearing for Merrick Garland and we have a vote on Merrick Garland.”
Reid asserted that he supports animal rights and anti-animal abuse legislation.
“I would put my support of animals and animal abuse with anyone’s,” he said, noting that he has earned the support of the Human Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
He then proposed that Toomey modify his request such that a Senate vote would be held on the PACT Act only after the Senate voted on Garland’s nomination.
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, objected to Reid’s request. Toomey responded.
“I don’t think it’s any mystery to anyone who’s been following what’s happening here. [Reid] stands up and complains that we’ve not been productive, we’ve not gotten things done,” he said, noting that the bill has support of a majority of Senate Democrats and outside groups.
“He raises a completely unrelated issue and uses that as the basis to block this non-controversial legislation,” Toomey added.
“This is exactly what the American people are so frustrated about with this body and some of the leadership in this body, when this kind of completely partisan agenda blocks progress even on modest and non-controversial legislation.”