Groups representing disabled veterans and medical researchers warned this week that legislation banning most medical experimentation on dogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs would deprive veterans of needed medical breakthroughs, and thus represents a dangerous policy change for America's war heroes.
It's a tricky argument for the groups, in part because it pits two worthy and popular causes against each other: animal rights, and ensuring that injured U.S. soldiers get the best medical treatment possible.
Last week, those seeking improved treatment for animals had their say. Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., proposed an amendment to a package of four spending bills for the next fiscal year, which included VA funding.
Brat's amendment banned any VA funding for testing or other activities that bring certain levels of pain to dogs. The amendment passed overwhelmingly, in a voice vote, after a debate in which no one spoke against it.
That easy vote took opponents of the language by surprise, but some have indicated they will work to stop or amend it. They are starting with the argument that the amendment discounts the wounded veterans who stand to benefit from research on animals.