Senate approves stem cell bill

The Democrat-led Senate's passage of legislation seeking to allow federal funding for cutting-edge embryonic stem cell research sets up another fight with President Bush.

Senate approves stem cell bill
The Democrat-led Senate's passage Wednesday of legislation seeking to allow federal funding for cutting-edge embryonic stem cell research sets up another fight with President Bush, who has vowed to veto the bill just as he did in July.

Proponents of the legislation say it is necessary even though a growing number of states led by California are undertaking state-funded research to make up for the federal government's Bush-ordered absence from almost all embryonic stem cell research. They said another presidential veto won't end their effort, although they remain shy of the votes in the Senate and House needed to override the veto.

"If we can't override the veto, we'll be back and back and back until we do,'' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a longtime backer of embryonic stem cell research who was a sponsor of the Senate bill approved 63-34 on Wednesday.

Embryonic stem cell research has emerged as a potent political issue, and it could be again in the presidential and congressional elections of 2008, given Bush's opposition to almost all federal funding. Proponents say the research holds promise for producing cures or treatments for spinal cord injuries and such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In August 2001, the president decided to allow federally funded research into then-existing embryonic stem cell lines, but he banned federal money for work on subsequently created lines of cells. However, most of the lines in existence at the time Bush issued his decision have become contaminated, making them useless for research, scientists have said.

Bush and other critics of embryonic research say adult stem cells and umbilical stem cells provide good opportunities for research without destroying embryos, the earliest form of human life, which the president and his allies say must be protected.

And they say the lack of federal funding through the National Institutes of Health, which has a $30 billion annual budget, is forcing promising research to move overseas.

Proponents in the Senate know they have momentum on their side. Last year in the Republican-controlled body, they garnered 63 votes for the bill before Bush vetoed it -- the only veto he has exercised thus far in his presidency. But after November's election, in which stem cells emerged as an issue and Democrats won control of the Senate by a slim 51-49 margin, proponents gained support.

The 63 votes in support on Wednesday included 15 Republican senators, but didn't include three Democratic backers who were absent. Still, the 66 backers are one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

The House passed an almost identical stem cell bill 253-174 in January as part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's initial "Six for '06'' legislative drive -- up from 235 in 2006, but far short of the 290 votes needed to overturn a presidential veto..

The White House on Tuesday reiterated Bush's vow to veto the embryonic stem cell bill.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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