H.Res. XX: Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R. 5566 with an amendment - Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010

H.Res. XX

Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R. 5566 with an amendment - Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010

Date
November 15, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

The House is scheduled to consider the resolution to concur with the Senate amendment on Monday November 15, 2010 under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  The resolution would have the affect of concurring with a Senate amendment to H.R. 5566, the Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010, which was approved by the House on July 21, 2010 by a vote of 416–3

Bill Summary

If adopted, the resolution would amend a Senate amendment to H.R. 5566, Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010.  The Senate amendment would revise Section 48 of title 18 of the U.S. Code to include the creation, sale or distribution of an animal “crush” video as an act of unlawful animal cruelty.  The amendment would make such acts violations punishable by fines and up to seven years of imprisonment (as opposed to five years proposed in the House-passed bill). 

The Senate amendment would make it illegal to knowingly sell or offer to sell, or distribute or offer to distribute, an animal crush video for the purpose of commercial gain. 

The Senate amendment would define “animal crush video” as any obscene photograph, motion-picture film, video recording, or electronic image that depicts actual conduct in which one or more living animals is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, or impaled in a manner that would violate a criminal prohibition on cruelty to animals under federal law or the law of the state in which the depiction is created, sold, distributed, or offered for sale or distribution.

The legislation excludes from prohibition the sale or distribution of any visual depiction of customary and normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices, the slaughter of animals for food, hunting, trapping, or fishing.

Background

The Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010 (H.R. 5566) approved by the House on July 21, 2010 by a vote of 416–3.  According to the findings listed in the bill, “There are certain extreme acts of animal cruelty that appeal to a specific sexual fetish. These acts of extreme animal cruelty are videotaped, and the resulting video tapes are commonly referred to as ‘animal crush videos.’”   The findings also note that the Supreme Court “has long held that obscenity is an exception to speech protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”  However, on April 20, 2010, the Supreme Court struck down a 1999 law that banned depictions of animal cruelty by an 8–1 ruling on the grounds that the law violated the First Amendment.  According to House Report 111-549, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings and concluded that the Supreme Court may be more receptive to legislation banning the sale or distribution of such videos, rather than merely the depiction.

Cost

A CBO score for the Senate amendment was unavailable as of press time.  However, according to a CBO score for a similar version of the bill (H.R. 5566), implementing the Senate amendment would have no significant cost to the federal government.  The legislation could affect direct spending and revenues, so pay-as-you-go procedures would apply, but CBO estimates that any such effects would not be significant.  CBO expects that H.R. 5566 would apply to a relatively small number of offenders, however, so any increase in costs for law enforcement, court proceedings, or prison operations would not be significant.  Any such costs would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

Because those prosecuted and convicted under H.R. 5566 would be subject to criminal fines, the federal government might collect additional amounts if the legislation is enacted.  Criminal fines are recorded as revenues, deposited in the Crime Victims Fund, and later spent.  CBO estimates that any additional revenues and direct spending would not be significant because of the small number of cases likely to be affected.