Senator Puts Hold on Popular Anti-Cockfighting Bill

A Republican senator is holding up a popular bipartisan bill to crack down on cockfighting that was expected to pass easily in the Senate yesterday, drawing outrage from his congressional colleagues.

The hold, placed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., "testifies to the powers of these shadowy forces that allow this illegal and barbaric scandal to continue," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., one of the bill's co-sponsors in the House.

Earlier this week Republicans and Democrats in the House passed the bill by a landslide margin of 368 to 39 votes.


Coburn's office said he is blocking a Senate vote on the bill because the federal government has no reason to be involved in the issue, especially since most states have already passed laws banning cockfighting and dogfighting.

Lobbyists for the billion-dollar industry have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to resist anti-cockfighting legislation in recent years.

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Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, says Oklahoma has been a bastion for illegal cockfighting, and that Coburn has been swayed by its powerful lobbyists. 

But Coburn's spokesman John Hart says the opposite is true.  "Members of Congress often push bills through for public relations reasons.  This legislation is solely designed to pander to special interest groups," said Hart. 

He added that Coburn has been known to put holds on any bill that he feels adds bureaucracy and cost to the federal government. 

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