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October 28, 2005

Congressional Conference Agrees To End Horsemeat Inspections

A Congressional conference committee finalized an agricultural appropriations bill on Thursday, Oct. 27, that does not included funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives to inspect the two U.S. plants that slaughter horses.

The current funding for inspecting these two plants, in Texas and Illinois, will expire 120 days after President Bush signs the appropriations bill. The Senate passed the bill by a 69-28 margin, and the House passed it by a 269-158 margin, before the bill went into conference. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) was the only conference committee member who publicly opposed the amendment before the voting.

Representatives from horse-welfare and animal-rights groups are hailing the committee\'s agreement as a major hurdle in passing pending legislation to completely ban equine slaughter in the United States. Both houses of Congress have bills doing just that before them.

The House of Representatives passed its bill (H.R. 503) in the spring, while in the Senate, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) introduced an identical bill (S. 1915) on Oct. 26. The bill\'s co-sponsors are Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Arlen Specter (R-PA); Carl Levin (D-MI and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT).

About 65,000 horses are slaughtered annually for human consumption.

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