“Slipped into a large transportation infrastructure bill, the amendment must now pass the Senate before it can become law…”
The House of Representatives passed an amendment Wednesday that would ban the transportation of horses across state lines or to Canada and Mexico to slaughterhouses for human consumption.
According to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the amendment, part of the larger INVEST in America transportation infrastructure bill the House passed Thursday, would effectively ban horse slaughter nationwide.
Before it can become law, the legislation must face an evenly-divided Senate, where its future is unclear. Only two House Republicans joined the Democratic majority to pass the INVEST Act.
The debate has been closely watched for years in Texas, where horses are big business and two of the last slaughterhouses were located.
“It’s official! Our amendment to stop the transportation of horses across the country to foreign slaughterhouses is signed and sealed! #INVESTact #horses,” Carter tweeted Thursday with pictures of the amendment text attached.
“The conditions on these journeys are particularly inhumane, with horses crammed inside trailers for long journeys without adequate water, food, or rest,” Carter said in a press release. “I offered this amendment because it was a chance to end this heinous practice once and for all and I am glad to see its successful passage.”
A number of animal welfare organizations also commended the amendment’s passage, including The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States.
“While horse slaughterhouses haven’t operated within U.S. borders in over a decade, current federal law doesn’t prevent the export of American horses to other countries to be slaughtered for human consumption,” The ASPCA said in a news release on its website. “The Carter-Fitzpatrick Amendment could finally close that loophole.”
The practice of butchering horses for human consumption in the U.S. came to a halt in 2006, when it was effectively banned after Congress stopped funding Department of Agriculture inspections of slaughter facilities.
Then in 2017, the House approved lifting the ban, reigniting the debate. Supporters of domestic horse meat production had been pushing Congress for years to reconsider its decision.
There were two slaughterhouses in Texas that processed horse meat before the 2006 defunding, one in Kaufman and one in Fort Worth.
Advocates of horse slaughter for consumption say there is a significant problem with unwanted horses. They say the option cuts environmental contamination from landfill disposal, and ensures aging and unwanted horses are treated humanely. Over the years, a number of Texas legislators, including Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Waco, have supported the legalization of horse slaughter.
But in 2018, President Donald Trump signed a spending bill that renewed the federal ban. The measure again prohibited the Department of Agriculture from spending money on inspecting horse slaughter facilities.
“This range of support only happens because it’s something Americans agree on,” Carter said. “Today, America agreed to fully ban the transportation of horses for slaughter. I hope the Senate will act next to turn this into law.”