WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House passed legislation Thursday to ban the interstate transfer of birds for cockfighting.
Initially, the House parliamentarian ruled the amendment to the House farm bill failed in a voice vote. It won on a second vote obtained by the sponsor, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., when far more members were present.
Federal law prohibits the shipment across state lines of most animals for fighting purposes, but birds can be shipped to one of the three states where cockfighting still is legal, New Mexico, Oklahoma or Louisiana.
Supporters of Blumenauer's legislation say the loophole gives illegal cockfighters in the other 47 states an easy defense when confronted by police: They were merely raising the birds for shipment.
The amendment was initially resisted by the chairman and the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.
``This amendment would have a chilling effect on the transport of other birds. Breeders and exhibitors of fancy birds have testified that airlines, shipping companies, et cetera, are not willing or able to distinguish between live birds for fighting or those from exhibitions,'' said the chairman, Larry Combest, R-Texas.
In the end, both Combest and the ranking member, Charles Stenholm, D-Texas, agreed to support the amendment when House and Senate negotiators work out difference between the two farm bills.
The Senate is expected to take up the farm bill next week.