CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 844 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Representative Don Young (R-AK) on February 3, 2009.
H.R. 844 amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to update existing practices and procedures for rescuing and rehabilitating stranded or entangled marine mammals. Under current law, only stranded mammals are subject to these procedures. H.R. 844 would also incorporate mammals entangled in rope, gear, line, nets, etc. to these procedures, whether living or dead.
The bill also reauthorizes the John H. Prescott Mammal Rescue Assistance grant program for the years 2010-2013. H.R. 844 authorizes the appropriation of $7 million for each year of the program.
H.R. 844 also authorizes $500,000 per year for fiscal years 2010-2013 for the Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Event Fund, which is designed to respond to unusual or mysterious deaths of marine mammals.
On March 19, 2007, the House passed a similar bill (H.R. 1006) by voice vote. The Senate never considered that legislation.
The Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program awards grants for the rescue of marine mammals through the Departments of Interior and Commerce. The grants are awarded to groups for the rescue and treatment of stranded marine mammals, as well as for facilities or equipment needed to rescue marine mammals, and data collection about these animals.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 generally prohibits killing, capturing, or hunting marine mammals, and bans most imports and exports of marine mammal products. Marine mammals subject to this legislation include sea otters, polar bears, dugongs, manatees, and walruses.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not produced a cost estimate for H.R. 844. However, the bill authorizes appropriations totaling $30 million for marine mammal programs.