In a victory for animal rights activists, a congressional committee voted Tuesday to reinstate the five-year ban on slaughtering horses for food.
Northern Virginia Democratic Rep. Jim Moran's amendment prohibiting the slaughter was added to the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill by House Appropriations Committee. The bill is set for a full House vote in coming days.
Horse meat is not often consumed in the United States but it is on the menu in other countries, and American companies could slaughter horses and ship the meat overseas. Moran also pushed Congress last year to extend a ban on slaughtering horses for food that ran from 2006 to 2011. It passed the House but died during negotiations with the Senate.
Federal inspections of meat plants were cut by $9 million in the upcoming fiscal year, so eliminating horse facilities from inspectors' duties would give them more time to examine facilities that provide meat for American households, Moran's office said.
"When more than 80 percent of the American population opposes this practice, it is high time we put an end, once and for all, to industrial horse slaughter," Moran said. "Horses hold an important place in our nation's history and culture, treasured by all for their beauty and majesty. They deserve to be cared for, not killed for foreign consumption."
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society lauded Moran for helping to kill a "multi-million-dollar subsidy that could pave the way for the needless killing of American horses for foreign gourmands."