Congress obtained that result by not appropriating money for inspecting horse meat (a variation on the method that Congress obtained the 55 mph speed limit and the 21 year old drinking age). The ban on that appropriation ended in a rider to a continuing resolution (aren't political maneuvers wonderful?)
The last U.S. slaughterhouse that butchered horses was Cavel International, which operated in DeKalb. It closed in 2007. Illinois has since banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption. California also has a ban, and more than a dozen states tightly regulate the sale of horse meat.The horse fanciers and other advocates for animal welfare are not going to let the export of horse steaks to France and the Low Countries to resume without objection. The problem, as Voluntary Xchange notes, with the ban is that owners of horses that are no longer in condition to ride or pull or perform now must put them out to pasture, and in these cash-tight times the disposable income for oats isn't there. Some horse-owners could hire a factor who would deliver the horse to Canada or Mexico, for little net gain, and some horse-owners might have an unofficial town dump nearby. What was seen was the closure of Cavel International in DeKalb. What was unseen was the slow starvation of horses.
Congress lifted the ban in a spending bill President Obama signed into law Nov. 18 to keep the government afloat until mid-December.
The lifting of the ban did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending.