In a rare showing of bipartisan support, Senate lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill making animal cruelty a federal felony.
The bill, which now goes to President Trump for a final signature, was sponsored by Florida Reps. Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan. It comes two weeks after the House passed it on a voice vote.
The PACT Act, passed unanimously by the Senate, would prohibit extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property and cracks down on sexual abuse of animals.
Deutch, a Democrat, said the bill “sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals.”
Buchanan, a Republican, said “the torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who shepherded the bill through Congress with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called it a major victory in efforts to halt animal cruelty and make communities safer.
“Until tonight, Congress has never passed a comprehensive animal torture law,” Toomey tweeted. “After years of work, the PACT Act, which I intro’d with @SenBlumenthal, is now on its way to the president’s desk. It establishes strong penalties for monsters who hurt animals.”
The PACT Act would prohibit extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property, and it also cracks down on sexual abuse of animals.
The bill expands a 2010 law that made the creation or distribution of so-called “animal crushing” videos illegal.
While current federal law bans the sale or distribution of videos showing animals being crushed, burned or tortured, it does not explicitly prohibit the acts themselves. The new bill would make the underlying acts of cruelty a federal crime.
Law enforcement agencies including the National Sheriffs’ Association and Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the bill, citing a well-documented connection between animal cruelty and violence against people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.