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Heard on the Hill: Slippery Defense of Snakes

Last week HOH learned that when it comes to the urgent fight to save our economy, nothing will be overlooked.

David Barker, president of Vida Preciosa International Inc., testified Wednesday against new federal regulations in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. In and of itself, that’s not very funny because we all know federal regulations are often discussed and dismissed in the halls of the Republican House. Except in this case, Barker was arguing for less regulation of the exotic pet snake trade.

Put another way: He was a dude talking about snakes transported across state lines on planes.

Barker urged Congress to go easy on regulations on the importation of dangerous and invasive plant and animal species, including nine species of constrictors, which we all know from Animal Planet are a kind of snake.

Barker’s argument against federal regulation: Let’s not make a federal case out of it, the Florida python problem isn’t that bad, constrictors could only really survive in southern Florida and Hawaii (so who cares?), and his pièce de résistance, the “proposal is a job-killing solution in search of a problem.”

Boom. That’s right: He said it. Jobs. It was a talking point. And it was good. 

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) basically rolled his eyes at Barker (and the GOP) via press release.

“Wednesday’s hearing bordered on theater of the absurd when the majority brought in a snake breeder,” Connolly’s office said.

“These pythons are the same snakes that are breeding rapidly, overrunning the Everglades, eating every animal in sight including large alligators, and establishing a permanent habitat in South Florida, according to the National Park Service,” Connolly said.

To be fair, the regulation doesn’t just ban the Burmese python (a subspecies of the Indian python), it bans all Indian pythons, reticulated pythons, Northern African pythons, Southern African pythons, boa constrictors, yellow anacondas, DeSchauensee’s anacondas, green anacondas and Beni anacondas.

Disturbingly, neither Connolly nor Barker said anything about the giant African land snail, which is apparently eating its way across the parts of Florida the pythons have missed. 

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