Ernst Gives ‘Squeal Award’ to USDA Unit That Bought Kittens, Puppy Parts in China

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.
April 22, 2020Updated: April 22, 2020

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) named the U.S. Agricultural Research Service—which spent tax dollars buying kittens and dog parts in China’s wet markets—as the latest recipient of her monthly “Squeal Award” to expose wasteful federal spending.

The unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture “spent taxpayer dollars shopping for kittens and puppy parts in China at slaughterhouses and ‘wet markets,’ where living animals are bought, sold, and butchered for human consumption in unsanitary conditions,” Ernst said in a statement released to The Epoch Times on April 22.

“The cats and dogs purchased in China were used for experiments, which were discontinued last year. While the total amount spent at the meat markets in China is unknown, the project was costing $650,000 a year in taxpayer funds,” the statement said.

“Instead of wasting your hard-earned tax dollars in China’s wet markets—or the Wuhan lab frankly—the federal government should have been pushing China to shut down these dangerous, disease-prone places,” the statement continued.

Ernst was referring to  the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is near the wet market from which the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, is thought to have spread to the world.

“Nearly two decades ago, SARS was believed to have made the leap from animals to humans at a wet market in China. And ever since, scientists have been warning that another, far more virulent virus could be transmitted from wildlife to humans if these wet markets were not shut down,” Ernst said.

“The communist nation’s rules for these repulsive markets, of course, are lax and often unenforced or ignored. Live rats, snakes, and other wildlife, including the animals that were the source of SARS, and even ‘recycled lab animals’ that had been used as test subjects by Chinese researchers, have been reported as being bought and sold for food at these markets,” Ernst added.

Ernst also announced April 22 that she’s joining with Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as co-sponsors of a bill that would permanently ban all such spending by federal departments and agencies.

While the proposal hasn’t yet been named, a draft text was made available to The Epoch Times.

“As a businessman who created hundreds of American jobs, I specifically limited my business with China because you can’t trust the Communist Party of China,” Braun said, in the statement with Ernst.

“That’s why I believe that we should not be using American taxpayer dollars to fund Chinese wet markets, the Wuhan biolab, or anything that helps the Communist Party of China,” he said.

The bipartisan legislation is needed “to ensure that government employees don’t ever go on another taxpayer-funded shopping spree for cats, dogs or any other animals at China’s filthy, dangerous wet markets,” White Coat Waste Project Vice President Justin Goodman said in the statement.

Goodman’s group is a Washington-based foundation that seeks to end tax-funded animal experimentation.

“Last year, we exposed how for years federal employees flew to China, purchased cats and puppies from wet markets, had them slaughtered, and brought their body parts back to the United States in carry-on luggage to feed to kittens in bizarre and wasteful multimillion-dollar experiments that have since been shut down by the Trump Administration,” Goodman said.

“This kind of reckless research involving disgusting wet markets—which even are known to sell experimental lab animals for consumption—puts animal, human, and global health in grave danger. The government never should have spent taxpayer dollars at China’s wet markets, and this bill will make sure it never does again,” he said.

Ernst’s previous Squeal Award winners have included a lengthy list of federal departments, commissions, and agencies, including, for example:

  • $1.4 billion spent by federal officials on advertising and public relations campaigns of doubtful value to the government’s major purposes, as well as “swag” keychains, mascots, koozies, and similar items.
  • Department of Defense officials spent more than $30 million buying computers from Chinese suppliers that military and intelligence experts have warned for years could compromise U.S. national security.
  • Hundreds of millions spent by federal officials awarding bogus performance bonuses to poorly performing federal contractors, such as the $500 million NASA has given to date to multiple firms working on the new manned moon mission.
  • End perks that lawmakers have awarded themselves, such as a $3,000 tax deduction for their living expenses in Washington.

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