07/13/2017 11:19AM

House committee OKs funding for inspection of horse-slaughter facilities

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The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved an agriculture bill that will restore funding for inspections at horse-slaughter facilities, with the budget bill now on its way to the full U.S. House of Representatives.

An amendment to the bill that would have maintained the ban on inspections at horse-slaughter facilities was defeated narrowly, 27-25, during the committee meeting. The ban on funding has been in place since 2007, leading to the closure of the few horse-slaughter facilities that existed in the U.S. prior to the ban.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet taken up its own agriculture budget bill, but a subcommittee has passed a bill that does not maintain the ban. It is unlikely that the amendment will be added to the bills in the committee or on the floors of the Senate and the House, according to legislative officials, due to Republican control of both chambers.

Horse slaughter is a contentious issue among the general public and within the horse community. Critics have said that the federal government has overreached with the funding ban, leading to support from the Republican Party, while supporters, including animal-welfare groups, contend that the horses deserves special protection among livestock animals.

The issue is moot, considering that no horse-slaughter facilities currently operate in the U.S. However, making funds available for inspections could lead to the opening of new facilities. In the past decade, buyers have bought horses from livestock auctions and shipped the animals to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, was sharply critical of the defeat of the amendment on Wednesday in a blog post, calling it “as unimaginable as the rhetoric from the horse slaughter crowd was hypocritical.”