06/09/2005 12:00AM

Anti-slaughter clause approved by House


The House of Representatives passed an agriculture appropriations bill on Wednesday night that includes an amendment that seeks to prohibit horse slaughter for one year.

The vote, 408-18, came after supporters of the anti-slaughter amendment succeeded in getting the provision into the bill on Wednesday afternoon after two years of unsuccessfully supporting bills to ban slaughter specifically. The amendment strips funding from the Department of Agriculture to inspect horses bound for slaughter for one year beginning Oct. 1, the start of the U.S. fiscal year.

An identical amendment would need to be approved in a Senate version of an appropriations bill for the anti-slaughter provision to take effect. If the Senate version does not include the amendment, it would have to be approved in the reconciliation process between the two bills. The Senate has not yet started debate on an agriculture appropriations bill.

Anti-slaughter legislation in the Senate has been supported in the past by Sen. John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada who is a veterinarian. On Thursday, a spokesman for Ensign, Jack Finn, said that the senator is attempting to collect support for a bill that would ban horse slaughter in the hopes of introducing it in the next several weeks.

As for an amendment similar to the one attached to the House appropriations bill, Finn said, "Since it just passed yesterday, we don't know a whole lot of the details, but we certainly support it in principle."

Approximately 65,000 horses were slaughtered last year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.