Instead of banning it outright, Congress last year yanked the salaries and expenses of federal inspectors. But the Bush administration simply started charging slaughter plants for inspections, and the slaughter has continued.
The House vote was 263-146 to outlaw the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Opponents of the practice showed photographs of horses with bloodied and lacerated faces, the result of being crammed into trailers that would carry the animals to slaughterhouses.
"It is one of the most inhumane, brutal, shady practices going on in the U.S. today," said Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., a sponsor of the ban.
Sweeney argued that the slaughter of horses is different from the slaughter of cattle and chickens because horses are American icons.
"They're as close to human as any animal you can get," said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.
Added Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.: "The way a society treats its animals, particularly horses, speaks to the core values and morals of its citizens."
The administration contended a ban would do more harm than good for horses.