The bill passed by a voice vote and will now be considered by the full House.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commended the committee for swiftly moving the bill on the House after what spokesman Chris Heyde called "three weeks of stonewalling by horse slaughter proponents". The committee rejected several "poison pill" amendments, he said.
Horse slaughter remains a controversial issue in the US. Opponents argue it is cruel and unnecessary. Supporters maintain it is necessary to deal with what it calls unwanted horses and that a fate at a US slaughter plant is better than crossing the border into Mexico to unregulated abattoirs.
Heyde commended committee Chairman John Conyers and subcommittee chairman Bobby Scott for their shepherding of the bill, which received bipartisan support.
"By moving this bill, Chairman Conyers, lead co-sponsor Representative Dan Burton and Representative Scott are acting in line with the more than 70 percent of Americans who oppose the senseless slaughter of our nation's horses," said Heyde, who is the AWI's deputy director of government and legal affairs.
"Opponents of this legislation persist in their attempts to mislead the public, and make horses pawns in their political games."
The AWI urged the House to follow through on the Judiciary Committee's decisive action, and bring the legislation up for a vote before the full House before adjourning at the end of the month.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) also praised the passage of the bill through the committee, saying it "will take American horses off the menu for good".
"Horses are an American icon who deserve better than to be shipped hundreds of miles in unbearable conditions to slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada where they will be cruelly slaughtered for human consumption," said society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle.