January 7, 2019 – The Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act has now been signed into law after its inclusion into the final Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill that passed in December of 2019. The National Whistleblower Center is proud to support the Act, which adds wildlife trafficking to the State Department’s existing whistleblower reward program.
The RAWR Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Dina Titus (D-NV) on January 3, 2019 as H.R.97 and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in the Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on May 22, 2019.
The National Whistleblower Center submitted a letter of support for the RAWR Act, addressed to the relevant committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate, saying:
The National Whistleblower Center is proud to support the Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act.
The Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act has been introduced on a bicameral, bipartisan basis. It will amend the authorizing language of the State Department’s whistleblower rewards program, known as Rewards for Justice, to include wildlife trafficking. In the House, the bill has been introduced as H.R.97 and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In the Senate, the bill has been introduced as S.1590, and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. This legislation could serve as another valuable tool in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking and destruction. This is an additional avenue to pursue criminals who engage in wildlife trafficking, building on the existing body of law providing rewards that incentivize whistleblowers to step forward.
We applaud Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Dina Titus (D-NV) for their leadership in introducing and as original co-sponsors of the RAWR Act.
The whistleblower reward structure has been proven to work with decades of data. Whistleblower reward programs run by several different departments and agencies with enforcement capacity and subject-matter expertise, including the State Department, have brought in billions of dollars into U.S. government coffers. Most importantly, whistleblowers are incentivized to come forward with high-quality information that can assist U.S. law enforcement agents gain information and stop criminals and criminal networks.
The RAWR Act is an important new step in enlisting whistleblowers to make the U.S. government more efficient and effective.
The National Whistleblower Center urges the leadership of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to take concrete steps in support of the RAWR Act.
Other supporters of the RAWR Act include the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which also support the Wildlife Conservation & Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019.