Congress Goes to Far: Abrogating the International Migratory Bird Treaty


Rep. Duncan's Rider to the USDOJ Appropriations Bill

Rep. Jeff Duncan’s Rider to the USDOJ Appropriations Bill

Every principled person has lines they will not cross. Every scrupulous citizen has some issues on which they cannot compromise. For WC, one of those lines, one of those issues is the International Migratory Bird Treaty. The U.S. House of Representatives has gone too far in its effort to abrogate, to repudiate that treaty.

Bird have no regard for man-made political boundaries. Birds were migrating from region to region, from continent to continent, for millions of years before humanity climbed down from the trees and began using tools or dreaming up teabaggery. Human’s political boundaries are Johnny-come-latelies, arrivistes. Birds don’t regard them. When any issue crosses those artificial boundaries, it requires an international agreement to address that issue.

The International Migratory Bird Treaty isn’t new; it was written in 1916 and adopted by the United States in 1918. The Treat requires countries to penalize violations of the Treaty. Congress has tinkered with the kinds of penalties it chooses to impose, modifying them most recently in 1960, 1969, 1974 and 1998. If the U.S. House thinks the penalties are too severe ā€“ and WC has some strong opinions about the adequacy of both penalties and enforcement ā€“ then the solution would be to modify those penalties again, not abrogate the Treaty.

The idiot idea of abrogating the Treaty came from Congressman Jeff Duncan (R, SC), who proposed it as a rider to the annual appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Justice. And it passed as an amendment on a voice vote.

The idea of treaty abrogation didn’t originate with Rep. Duncan, of course. Whatever Duncan’s other talents may be, intellectualism isn’t one of them. No, WC strongly suspects that the idea originated with the oil and gas industry, because it was the largest category of Duncan’s campaign contributions. And Rep. Duncan is a card-carrying member of ALEC. This is an effort by the energy industry to escape punishment for the injuries it is doing to avifauna. So the industry is using its purchased mouthpiece to deal with the annoyance.

WC doesn’t feel compelled to defend protection of the 10,000-odd species of birds in the world. Or explain his profound unhappiness at the hundreds of species that have been extirpated in humankind’s brief tenure on the planet. But Rep. Duncan and his fellow House members ā€“ on a voice vote – have walked away from the best protection birds have. Because their political masters in the energy sector find it inconvenient to comply with the laws.

WC hopes for more sense from the U.S. Senate. Otherwise, the President will be in the awkward position of vetoing the USDOJ appropriation.

In the meantime, WC hopes that a mosquito that might have otherwise been eaten by a Barn Swallow infects Rep. Duncan with West Nile Virus.

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One thought on “Congress Goes to Far: Abrogating the International Migratory Bird Treaty

  1. I tried finding out what portion of the MBTA Sec. 2(a) is, and am a bit confused as all I could see was a Section 2 [and no sub-section (a) ]….so is it correct to deduce it is the entire Sec. 2 (which is the meat of the entire Treaty)?

    To the extent that this is the case and that this effective de-funding occurs, does that not present a POSSIBLE course of relief – in the form of an actionable case by one of the treaty’s other signers (Mexico, Canada, for instance)? Not that that is a desired outcome, of course.

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