In September, Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley visited Washington D.C. to receive an honorary award at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's Angels In Adoption Gala. They were accompanied by Nancy Heigl and Meg Heigl-Beltran, and during the trip, which also included a tour of White House, the group had the opportunity to speak with members of Congress about animal welfare matters.
Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) were both kind enough to set aside some time to discuss a number of issues. Although Congressman Gallegly, who has represented his Southern California district for 25 years, will retire at the end of his current term, he spoke passionately about his accomplishments and his hopes for the future. He was particularly proud of his work to implement the Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010. Crush videos graphically depict the abuse and killing of animals.
In 1999, President Clinton had signed into law a Gallegly bill to outlaw the videos and for 10 years the industry disappeared. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law due to constitutional concerns and videos reappeared on the market. Gallegly's new law, prevents video depictions of drowning, impaling, burning and crushing of animals. The House passed the bill by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 416-3 and the Senate passed it by unanimous consent.
Jim Moran invited the Heigl party to lunch on The Hill and the group were able to hear his stance on animals rights and how he hopes to find the right counterpart to take the place of Congressman Gallegly. Congressman Moran also discussed his concerns about the long term impact on the local ecosystem of hunting of wolves in the West. He explained that with fewer wolves hunting deer, their population would rise dramatically and with that increased growth, place greater strain on vegetation. Deer feeding more intensively on the vegetation, particularly around river beds, would then impact on the fish population who rely on the vegetation to spawn.
The trip to Washington provided a valuable opportunity for the Heigl Foundation founders to speak informally with politicians about our work and to discuss areas of concern.