Morgan Freeman Pushes Congress to Save the Sharks

Oscar winner visits House and Senate ahead of 'Shark Week'

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, left, meets with Morgan Freeman, center, on Thursday. (Courtesy Sen. Roger Wicker's Office)
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, left, meets with Morgan Freeman, center, on Thursday. (Courtesy Sen. Roger Wicker's Office)
Posted June 27, 2016 at 7:00am

There are celebrities touring the Capitol to push for legislation they support. And then there’s Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.  

“I had God in my office,” Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said after meeting with the actor who has played God in the movies.  

Freeman came to the Capitol to stop the sale of shark fins in the United States.  

“Right now, the sharks are in a lot of trouble. They’re being killed for their fins,” Freeman said at a Thursday news conference to announce new legislation.  

The Oscar winner said he has long supported the advocacy group Oceana, which works to protects threats to the oceans and ocean life.  

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce is among the lead advocates on the House side, and he appeared with Freeman on Thursday.  

“Shark finning, which leaves these animals to die a slow and painful death at the bottom of the ocean, is a cruel practice that needs to be stopped. When the United States leads, others follow,” the California Republican said.  

It was no coincidence that the visit and rollout came just ahead of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.”  

A spokesman for Oceana told Heard on the Hill that Freeman had meetings scheduled with several lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, as well as senators including Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi.  

Booker is leading the Senate version of the bill to stop trading in shark fins, which advocates hope can advance this year.  

“Shark finning is pushing some species of sharks to the brink of extinction. With this bipartisan measure, America can become a global leader by shutting down the domestic market for shark fins. Sharks play a pivotal role in marine ecosystems, and we must do more to protect them,” Booker said in a statement.  

Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said he has long worked with Oceana on a variety of conservation issues, and he was supportive of the shark legislation.  

He said he thought the visit from Freeman was in part a “thank you” from Oceana.  

“To which I say, you are very welcome. Please feel free to bring Morgan Freeman in any time,” Whitehouse said.  

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.


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