Republicans narrowly blocked an amendment to a spending bill Wednesday that would have defunded inspections of horse slaughter facilities.
The amendment from Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) would have prohibited funding for the inspection of horse slaughter facilities, which would effectively prevent them from operating.
GOP appropriators defeated the proposal in a 24-24 vote during a markup of a bill to fund the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.
For the last three years, Farr said the USDA has asked Congress to defund the practice in its budget requests.
“Supporting this amendment does not stop the slaughter of horses,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the bill.
Aderholt argued the practice would just be moved “off-shore” and “out of sight.”
Democrats, however, said the practice is not humane and Congress has previously stated it does not support the slaughter of horses.
In April, Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Frank Guinta, (R-N.H.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to ban the killing of horses for human consumption in the U.S.
The bill also would ban the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses, where the animals are killed and shipped overseas.
The U.S. already has a ban in place on the sale of horse meat for human consumption, but it must be reviewed by Congress each year.