AVMA says veterinary legislation will see little disruption from Republican shift in Congress


Governmental Relations Division still focused on what can be done during 'lame duck' session.

While the 24-hour news cycle buzzed about the impact of a new Republican Congress on Nov. 5, those at the Governmental Relations Division of the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) say the change will only slightly impact their efforts as most legislative veterinary efforts on their part are bipartisan issues.

Communications manager Victoria Broehm, author of the AVMA's blog "2014 Midterm Election: What does the outcome mean for veterinary medicine?" writes that one of the most notable changes will be the replacement of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the Senate majority leader.

"The Senate majority leader is primarily tasked with not only speaking on behalf of their party, but managing and scheduling the legislative business of the Senate, which means that they can prioritize which bills make it to the floor," she writes. Legislative items such as repeal of the Affordable Care Act's medical-device tax that could garner some Democratic support may have a better chance of passage under a Republican majority.

Leadership of many individual committees will also change. "With new committee leadership comes its own set of rules and agendas, meaning once again at the committee level we'll see chairmen who choose to tackle certain legislation right away, while slowing the process, if not halting it, for other bills. That's just politics," she writes.

Before the 114th Congress formally begins Jan. 3, 2015, the AVMA has not lost sight of what can still be accomplished in the remainder of the current session. "During the lame duck session, the AVMA will be working on finalizing fiscal 2015 funding for key veterinary programs, advancing the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act as part of any tax legislation that is implemented, and urging passage of both the Marketplace Fairness Act and the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act," Broehm writes. If those bills are not passed in the next few weeks, they will die despite the momentum gained during the past two years of this Congress.

One thing that didn't change with the election is the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Veterinary Medicine Caucus. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) both won reelection. The pair co-sponsored the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act Schrader introduced and Congress passed this session.

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