Below we evaluate each of the U.S. Senate races and make endorsements where appropriate. You’ll see that we are strongly bipartisan, and in a nation so polarized by party, this is a decidedly good thing for the cause of animal protection. We certainly understand that many voters will take into consideration a wider range of issues in making a voting decision, but we think the nation needs a group that calls balls and strikes on animal issues only. Our ability to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is especially important in a Congress that is evenly divided by party and that is expected again in 2023 to have similarly close ratios in the House and Senate.
In 2022, there are 21 seats currently held by Republicans and 15 seats held by Democrats up for election. A number of them are open seats, where an incumbent is not running for re-election.
U.S. Senate Endorsements
Michael Bennet. Bennet gets the endorsement but it’s not an enthusiastic one. He’s cosponsored several pro-animal bills, including the anti-soring measure, the anti-shark finning bill, and Big Cat Public Safety Act. But he sidestepped a key vote on mink farming when the animal welfare community really needed him. He also failed to cosponsor of the FDA Modernization Act, the Bear Poaching Elimination Act, or other priorities of AWA. He’s been lackluster on animal welfare issues in the Senate, and holds an important position on the Agriculture Committee. It’s our hope that he finds passion on an issue that so many of his constituents support.
Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal is, perhaps after Senator Booker, the leading Democrat on animal welfare in the Senate. He is the leader of the Big Cat Public Safety Act and a cosponsor of a raft of other bills. He was the lead Democrat in a prior Congress of the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, a national anti-cruelty measure signed into law in 2019. He was also a co-lead in 2018 of the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which went into effect in December 2019 and bans animal fighting everywhere in the U.S., including in the U.S. territories.
Mike Crapo. Crapo is the lead author of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act and he’s been savvy enough to understand that a compromise is needed to see that a federal ban on soring is enacted, with felony-level violations for people who injure the feet and lower legs of horses to gain an advantage in horse shows. He was also a crucial cosponsor of the FDA Modernization Act. Like some other Republicans from major hunting and agriculture states, he’s not with us on all animal issues, but he’s accessible and fair and he gets involved meaningfully on issues at important and urgent issues.
Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth is a leader and champion on animal issues. The junior Senator from Illinois leaders the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee and is author of two critical measures – the Bear Poaching Elimination Act with Senator Kennedy and the Lead Endangers Animals Daily Act. She’s a rock-solid supporter of other animal welfare issues and has an important perch on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is a key committee of jurisdiction on wildlife issues.
Jerry Moran. Moran is remarkably able politician. He has only dabbled in animal welfare, but he’s someone the animal welfare community can talk to. He’s an important player on the Commerce Justice Science spending subcommittee, which controls funding for the Department of Justice. We want to see DOJ create an Animal Cruelty Crimes section, so that we can have dedicated focus on cockfighting, dogfighting, and other anti-cruelty issues.
Rand Paul. Dr. Paul is the leader of the FDA Modernization Act and did a masterful job in shepherding the bill through the Senate in September 2022, just one year after he introduced it with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. He has not been an advocate of animal welfare throughout his career, but his leadership on this bill is a strong turn in the right direction. He also withdrew any objections to the Big Cat Public Safety Act, putting us in a strong position to pass it. He earns our hearty endorsement.
John Kennedy. Kennedy is arguably the top Republican advocate of animal welfare in the Senate. He is the author of the Bear Poaching Elimination Act, which seeks to stop the trade in bear gall bladders for Traditional Chinese Medicine. He was an original cosponsor of the FDA Modernization Act. And he was a past leader of the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which would create an Animal Cruelty Crimes section as DOJ. He serves on the powerful Judiciary Committee and also the Commerce, Justice, State appropriations subcommittee.
Chris Van Hollen. Van Hollen has been a strong voice for animal welfare throughout his House and Senate terms. He regularly cosponsors bills to address a wide range of abuses, including measures to crack down on puppy mills, horse soring, horse slaughter, shark finning, and more.
Maggie Hassan. Hassan has not been a leader on animal welfare, but she’s been a reliable vote when matters come to the floor. She has cosponsored anti-soring, anti-slaughter, and anti-shark finning legislation. Here challenger is an is unknown on policy issues, but we are encouraged he has had his dog at the center of his campaign and offers the prosect of being an advocate should he be elected to the Senate.
Charles Schumer. Schumer has been a stalwart animal welfare advocate throughout his career, including as Democrat Majority Leader. He voted with us on the crucial mink-farming issue, supported bringing the FDA Modernization Act to the floor, and has supported our effort to block de-listing of wolves. He’s been an ally throughout his long and very consequential career in the House and Senate. As Senate Majority Leader, he commands enormous influences, and he wields that influence with an eye for animal welfare.
Ted Budd. Budd has been particularly active in advocating for horse protection, cosponsoring anti-horse slaughter legislation and taking to the floor and speaking in support of the anti-horse soring legislation. In 2022, he also cosponsored the FDA Modernization Act to eliminate a federal mandate for animal testing. We were surprised though by voting against the Big Cat Public Safety Act in the House, given that law enforcement and so many other groups back this relatively non-controversial legislation. Beasley’s views are unknown to us on animal welfare.
Tim Ryan. Ryan has been a solid supporter of animal welfare throughout his House terms, cosponsoring a wide range of pro-animal bills, including measures to combat shark finning and horse soring. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he’s always supported efforts to block horse slaughter from resuming in the U.S. He’s particularly engaged on healthy food and promotes sound agriculture policies. J.D. Vance has not demonstrated any keen interest in animal welfare issues thus far.
Ron Wyden. The long-serving Oregon Democrat has had a quiet but strong record on animal welfare during his long career. He voted with us on the crucial mink farming vote in this Congress. He was a lead author of the animal fighting amendment – to extend all prohibitions on fighting to the U.S. territories – in 2019, with Sen. Cory Booker. He cosponsors a fair number of animal welfare bills. He’s a strong politician with seniority in the chamber.
John Fetterman. The Lt. Governor has come out swinging on animal welfare issues and that’s the kind of leadership that we need. He has strongly criticized Dr. Mehmet Oz for conducting experiments on animals when he was a medical researcher at Columbia University. The victims include more than 300 dogs. His lab was hit with Animal Welfare Act violations by the federal government and the university was forced to pay a fine. Dr. Oz has not issued a public statement indicating his attitudes toward animal testing have changed.
John Thune. Thune has been on the opposite side of animal welfare on mink farming and some other agriculture issues. But he’s fair and open and he’s an ally on issues like the Big Cat Public Safety Act and the FDA Modernization Act.
Mike Lee. Lee is certainly no orthodox animal welfare advocate, and he voted with Senator Ron Johnson to urge the Senate to nix an anti-mink farming amendment. But on the upside, he cosponsored the FDA Modernization Act and gave it a big lift. He’s also the lead author of legislation to stop the misuse of check-off dollars by the diary industry and other sectors of animal agriculture. He’s opposed efforts by the federal government to put its thumb on the scales to favor the dairy and meat industries, and believes that cultured meat, plant-based milks, and other alternative proteins should be allowed to compete fairly in the marketplace. He stood out of the way and allowed the Big Cat Public Safety Act to advance in the senate.
Peter Welch. Rep. Welch, now running for Senate after a long run as At-Large U.S. Representative in the state. He has had a consistently strong record on animal issues, cosponsoring a wide range of policy reforms, while not leading on any.
Patty Murray. As leader of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Pensions and Labor, she supported including the FDA Modernization Act in her larger FDA legislative bill, S. 4348. When that stalled, she supported the effort by Senators Paul and Booker to move it as a stand-alone effort. She also voted against efforts to block the mink farming ban on the USA COMPETES Act and she has cosponsored a number of core animal welfare bills. She is on tap to be the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, where she can play an enormously consequential role to protect wolves, to fund the development of alternatives to animal testing, to fund enforcement of anti-cruelty laws, and more. (Read more about her role in the passage of the FDA Modernization Act here.)
Mandela Barnes. Mandela Barnes is not Ron Johnson, and that’s the best reason to endorse him. The Lt. Governor doesn’t have much of a record on animal welfare, but Senator Johnson does and it’s not been a good one. Johnson is the biggest promoter of the U.S. mink industry and has been persistent in promoting Congressional efforts to delist wolves. He’s never cosponsored a pro-animal-welfare bill in 12 years in the Senate
Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski is a very able and informed U.S. Senator. She represents what she sees as Alaska interests and that has put her on the opposite side of some animal welfare issues, including on the aerial killing of wolves grizzly bears, and other predators on National Wildlife Refuges and National Preserves. She’s not been helpful on humane management of wild horses, in her capacity as a long-time leader of the Interior Appropriations Committee. That said, she occasionally surprises as an animal welfare supporter and she’s fair-minded and not knee-jerk on the issue. She’ll almost certainly be a better advocate of animal welfare issues than her main opponent, Kelly Tshibaka.
John Boozman. Boozman, a genial and warm lawmaker who is open to hearing all sides of issues, will cruise to re-election in November. He’s been very cautious in supporting animal welfare reforms. He occupies a hugely important role on these matters as top Republican on the Agriculture Committee and a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Mark Kelly. Kelly has been entirely absent on animal welfare issues, even voting for the Ron Johnson Motion to Instruct to urge the Senate to reject a House-passed provision to ban mink farming. He’s not shown any leadership on the issue. Masters has taken no positions on animal welfare.
Val Demings. Rubio has been a thorn in the side on wildlife advocates the issue of shark finning. But he has authored a critical bill to upgrade the Lacey Act and restore federal authority to crack down on the trade in wildlife. He was also an early cosponsor of the FDA Modernization Act and he cosponsored the anti-horse-slaughter legislation for the first time. This represents a tremendous step-up in his work on animal welfare. Demings has been a consistent supporter of animal welfare and always voted with animal welfare concerns, though she has not cosponsored a number of bills, such as the FDA Modernization Act, the MINKS Are Superspreaders Act, or the Bear Protection Act. Both lawmakers have taken a number of actions to warrant the support of animal welfare advocates.
Todd Young. Young has largely been indifferent to animal welfare, though he’s not been an impediment to sensible reforms in this space. We do hope he engages more in his next term, which is almost a certainty given his strong political instincts and his strong service for Indiana.
Charles Grassley. Grassley has not had a strong record on animal welfare. He has been urging Congress to overturn Prop 12 and other state animal welfare laws. He has not, however, stood in the way of passing legislation to combat animal fighting, a national anti-cruelty law, or restrictions on animal testing. He’s someone we can talk to, even if we disagree with him at times. His opponent is unknown on animal welfare issues.
Eric Schmitt. Neither candidate has said much about animal welfare, except that Schmitt as Missouri Attorney General did sign a brief to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Prop 12 as violating the Dormant Commerce Clause. On the good side, he has taken some action against puppy mills in a state still known for mistreatment of dogs on mills.
John Hoeven. Hoeven is expected to cruise toward re-election. He is the top Republican on the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee. He’s been largely quiet on animal welfare issues.
Tim Scott. Scott is on a path to romp to victory, and he’s emerged as a prolific fundraiser and major voice within the Republican Party. He’s not demonstrated any hostility to animal welfare or any keen interest. He’s been indifferent, and in general appears to be a very cautious politician.
Animal Wellness Action (AWA) is a non-partisan organization promoting legal standards against cruelty and enforcement of our laws to protect animals. Because of its status as a 501(c)(4) organization, the organization can favor and oppose candidates seeking public office. It does so on a non-partisan basis, looking only at their pledges and performance on animal issues and also their political viability. AWA believes that opposing animal cruelty is a universal value, and that candidates and lawmakers of every political persuasion should favor sensible animal welfare policies. Our organization, in the 117th Congress, has initiated 10 new federal policy proposals, including the FDA Modernization Act, the Pigs in Gestation Stalls Act, the Kangaroo Protection Act, the MINKS Act (to ban mink farming in the U.S.), and the LEAD Act (to ban the use of lead ammunition on National Wildlife Refuges). We are also backing legislation that our leaders previously initiated, such as the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act (to create an Animal Cruelty Crimes section at the Department of Justice), the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, and the Bear Poaching Elimination Act. And we are strong backers of the Big Cat Public Safety Act and the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, along with measures to bar horse slaughter, to protect America’s wild horses and burros, and many other critical reforms.