WASHINGTON (Jul. 30)
President Eisenhower will veto a controversial humane slaughter bill passed last night by the Senate, it was predicted today by Chairman Allen Ellender of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
White House sources, however, said the President would not make a final decision until the bill in its final form arrives on his desk. It was noted, however, that at least two members of the Cabinet may urge a veto. They are the Secretaries of Agriculture and Defense who have reservations on the desirability of the legislation.
The final passage came on a roll-call vote of 72 to9.Earlier the Senate turned down, by a roll-call vote of 43 to 40, the Agriculture’s Committee version, which called for a two-year study of the matter. The study bill was backed by the Administration. The measure now goes to the House, which passed a similar measure, for consideration of Senate amendments. The bills forbid Federal agencies from buying meat products from any livestock processors who fail to comply with specified standards of humane slaughter.
Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, Minnesota Democrat who led the fight for the humane slaughter measure, said he saw little danger of a Presidential veto. He thought President Eisenhower would sign the bill “because the President is a very humane man. ” Before it reaches the White House, action must be taken by the House of Representatives. That body must either accept Senate amendments or send the bill to a Senate-House conference committee.
MEAT INDUSTRY CHARGED WITH INTRODUCING A JEWISH RELIGIOUS ISSUE
Senate sources said today that the meat industry sought to inject a Jewish religious issue to block the bill which requires meat packers selling to the government to use specified humane methods.
Arguments against the bill were aired yesterday on the Senate floor citing Orthodox Jewish views. The Orthodox group felt the measure might interfere with Shechita and undermine traditional religious freedom. But testimony of other Jewish groups was introduced holding that recognition by the original bill of Shechita as a humane method was satisfactory.
Sen. Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican, offered an a mend met exempting not only ritual slaughter, which is accepted as humane, from the bill but also the “handling” of animals in preparation for slaughter. He said Orthodox Jews felt strongly on safeguarding Shechita because of “the effort made under the Nazis to suppress Jewish life and practice through the suppression of ritualistic slaughter. “
However, Sen. Wayne Morse, Oregon Democrat, said the Javits exemption would give the impression that the Senate is asking some sort of exemption to humane slaughter. “We could perform no greater disservice to Orthodox Jewry than to let the legislation go through in that fashion, ” he said, adding that “basic in Jewish faith is humaneness to the dumb beast.”
But the Javits amendment was approved, as was one by Sen. Clifford Case, New Jersey Republican, which said that nothing in the bill shall be construed as interfering with religious freedom.
REFORM AND CONSERVATIVE JEWISH GROUPS SEE NO DANGER TO SHECHITA
In support of the bill, Sen. Humphrey introduced before the Senate a letter from former Senator Herbert H. Lehman of New York. Mr.. Lehman said the bill with “adequate protection for Jewish ritual slaughter” and certain modification “not only represents no real threat to the sensibilities of my faith, but is, indeed, consistent with the objectives of humaneness which are honored in the Jewish faith and tradition as well as in others. “
During the Senate debate, Sen. Humphrey quoted a statement by Rutherford T. Phillips, executive director of the American Humane Association. Mr. Phillips expressed surprise at Orthodox Jewish opposition and said “their fears are completely groundless. “
Also introduced by Sen. Humphrey was a communication by Jewish groups to Rep W. R. Poage, Texas Democrat, sponsor of the bill passed by the House and Senate. The communication, from Reform and Conservative groups, supported the bill in that it specifically recognized the Jewish ritual method slaughter as humane and lawful.
Sen. Frank J. Lausche, Ohio Democrat, told the Senate: “We would be treading upon dangerous ground if in any way we were to imply that compliance by the Jewish people with their ritual was tantamount to cruelty to animals, or to anyone else. We must begin with the premise that what they have done is in conformity with goodness, and with gentle treatment of living things, and that their religion has been founded on that basis. “
He said he would oppose any measure that considered Jewish ritual inhumane “having in mind the historic background of their ritual, which contemplates men of good character, of cleanliness, of decency, and men with a sense of protection toward the things which they destroy for food. “
As approved, the Senate measure would become effective June 30, 1960. The House version calls for the legislation to take effect December 31, 1959.