The US Senate is starting to work on resolving the differences between two very different bills focused on strengthening US competitiveness in the global market. The bills are:
• The Senate passed S1260 U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) in June 2021.
• The House passed HR4521 America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022 (COMPETES) in early February 2022.
The COMPETES Act includes Section 71102, Lacey Act Amendments, which radically changes the way that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has been regulating importation and interstate movement of wildlife species – a regulatory activity spanning 120 years — by:
• Creating a “White List” of species that could remain in trade if and only if the species has been determined by the FWS to be in more than “minimal quantities” in trade (a standard to be determined by regulation) and not “injurious.” If an animal is not on the new “White List,” the species is by default “banned” as an invasive/injurious species and banned from importation or interstate movement.
• White lists are unusual for the federal government as a regulatory tool and signatory or participant to international agreements and organizations predicated on prohibiting or restricting species trade for at-risk animals (i.e., Endangered Species Act or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), noxious plants (i.e., International Plant Protection Convention), pathogens that may infect US agricultural animals (World Organization for Animal Health) and imported animals and animal products capable of causing human disease (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
• Providing the FWS with new emergency listing authority of species in trade as well as species not yet in trade – a process that denies basic due process involving advance notice, opportunity to comment, public hearings, etc. While potentially appropriate for a species “not in trade,” this approach leaves US aquaculture at-risk for emergency listing for thousands of native and non-native aquatic species produced and sold to stock farms for grow-out, as farmed seafood, bait, recreational fish, biological control of nuisance aquatic plants or for aquarium and water gardening.
• Interstate movement of animals could be severely impacted if an animal does not make it onto the “White List.” The proposed amendment and the current Lacey Act does not provide any flexibility to the FWS to allow trade of species in portions of the country where they pose little to no risk (e.g., a tropical species in Alaska does not pose a similar risk as a tropical species in South Florida).
• A “White List” is an impossible task for port inspectors or law enforcement to rapidly distinguish, for animal health and welfare reasons, the variety of animals entering the United States. The NAA estimates the FWS would have to assess over 204,000 fish, reptiles, molluscs, crustaceans, birds, amphibians and mammals.
• Section 71102 was included in the COMPETES Act without a hearing by the House Committee on Natural Resources. This Committee is responsible for Congressional oversight of the Lacey Act.
1. Contact Senators within the following Subcommittees that will be resolving the differences between USICA and COMPETES to introduce yourself, what you do, and why you are opposed to COMPETES Act, Section 71102.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
• Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
• Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change and Manufacturing
2. Reach out an alert your U.S. Senators and Representative the COMPETES Act, Section 71102, Lacey Act amendments, must be rejected. Contact your Senator’s and Congressman’s Washington, DC office AND their District Office via phone calls and written materials (letters preferred) and inform them that you oppose Section 71102.
You can find:
• U.S. Senator’s DC and District office information at https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm.
• U.S. House Representative’s DC and District office information at
Prior to calling
a. Plan exactly what you want to say before you call – be short and simple — tell them you are also sending written materials.
b. Never assume your Representative or Senator or their staff understands or knows anything about this specific issue.
c. Best to prepare written comments or notes to make sure you get key points mentioned.
d. Be short, clear, polite and to the point.
When you call (DC and the District Office)
a. Ask to speak with the staff assistant handling this issue — S 1260 USICA and HR 4521 COMPETES Act Reconciliation.
b. Make sure to state if you are constituent – if not identify why calling mentioning any link you have with their state, such as work in their state.
c. End by asking that the Senator or Representative to not support inclusion of any amendments to Lacey Act without appropriate Committee hearings to evaluate the pros-and-cons of amending long standing provisions of the Lacey Act’s addressing injurious wildlife issues.
d. Always be courteous, polite and do not vent.
a. Mail or send letter via email – letters have the most impact. Ask for an email address to attach letter or ask for FAX information. If you can only send an email, then format it so it looks like a letter.
b. Keep you written comments targeted on one or two pages at most.
c. Always keep in mind that the person you are communicating with is very unlikely to be well-versed on the issue(s) and is overloaded and has limited time – so make sure they understand importance of letting the Senator or Representative know that your issue is extremely important.
d. When discussing with District Office also request an opportunity to meet with the Senator or the Representative the next time they are in your state, preferably at the District Office –AND if your request is granted – round up 3-6 like-minded individuals to accompany you.
For written communications use the following format:
The Honorable [first and last name]
[Office number and building]
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator [last name]:
The Honorable [first and last name]
U.S. House of Representatives
[Office number and building]
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative [last name]:
For questions and suggestions, please contact the NAA.