House Unanimously Passes Donovan's RAWR Act
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed Congressman Dan Donovan’s (R-NY) bipartisan Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act, which would help ensure that taking down the terrorists and transnational criminal organizations engaged in wildlife trafficking and poaching would be a top rewards priority. Reports indicate that crimes related to illegal wildlife generates billions of dollars a year, some of which is turned into funds for terrorists.
Prior to passage, Donovan spoke on the House floor on how the RAWR Act would help bolster our national security by choking off funding to terrorists.
A rough transcript of Donovan’s remarks is below:
I’m proud to sponsor the RAWR Act (Rescuing Animals with Rewards Act) HR 6197. The RAWR Act will help ensure that taking down terrorists and transnational criminal organizations engaged in wildlife trafficking and poaching will be a top rewards priority. Combatting terrorism is of the utmost importance not just to my constituents, not just to New Yorkers, but to the entire nation. It is an issue that transcends party lines.
Mr. Speaker, I have here a letter of support from the Wildlife Conservation Society. I ask for unanimous consent to enter it into the record.
Mr. Speaker, I also have a letter of support and endorsement from the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Humane Society International. I ask for unanimous consent to enter that into the record as well.
Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of September 11th; it was a stark reminder of the danger terrorism poses to the nation every single day. The district I represent, Staten Island and South Brooklyn, which is home to many of New York City’s bravest and finest, suffered hundreds of casualties on September 11th. Since then, New York remains the world’s number one target for terrorism. As a nation, we’ve become a more resilient and determined nation to mitigate threats against us. But as we have choked off other resources of money, terrorists have increasingly turned to wildlife trafficking as a way to fund their heinous endeavors. Any step that we can take that will lead to the capture and conviction of anyone engaged in wildlife trafficking, especially terrorists, is a step in the right direction.
Reports indicate that crimes related to illegal wildlife generates billions of dollars a year. These illicit funds turn into terrorist finances, fuel instability, and help arm groups in Africa. The prices that wildlife traffickers can fetch for hunting and ruthlessly killing animals are staggering. Conservation groups estimate that a kilogram of raw ivory can be worth as much as $2,100, while a kilogram of rhino horn can be worth $65,000.
I am confident that the Foreign Affairs Committee and the House of Representatives will continue to fight against this problem.
I want to thank … Chairman Royce for your support on this bill. Ranking Member, my colleague from New York, Eliot Engel. And thank you to my friend Congressman Castro for co-leading with me. And I thank you … House Leadership for bringing this to the Floor. I would also like to thank the staff at the Foreign Affairs Committee, especially Meg Gallagher and Sean O’Neil, who put much work into this Act.