The omnibus spending bill containing provisions that prevent the resumption of horse slaughter on US soil has been passed by both the US House of Representatives and the Senate.
US President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill in coming days.
The bill prevents the US Department of Agriculture from providing the plant inspections required for horses to be slaughtered for human consumption.
The last three plants on US soil closed in 2007 under state laws, with Congress defunding the inspections which made it impossible for them to open in other states. This remained the case until 2011, when the defunding language was removed by a small conference subcommittee from an agriculture bill.
The new bill goes one step further, with a stipulation that funding cannot be restored unless the Food and Drug Administration makes a determination that meat from American horses can be made safe.
The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund called on Congress to go a step further and pass a permanent ban on domestic horse slaughter, by passing a bill that would end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad.
Humane society president and chief executive Wayne Pacelle said: “We Americans care for horses, we ride horses, and we even put them to work. But we don’t eat horses in the United States. And we shouldn’t be gathering them up and slaughtering them for people to eat in far-off places.
“We stopped slaughtering horses on US soil in 2007, and it’s the right policy to continue that prohibition. We hope that all parties associated with this issue can agree to stop the inhumane export of live horses to Canada and Mexico, and protect all American horses from a disreputable, predatory industry.”
Polling from 2012 shows that 80 percent of Americans oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The opposition spanned across all partisan, regional, and gender lines.