Bush Backs Some Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research
The White House on Thursday announced its support for a bill (S 30), co-sponsored by Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), that would allow federal funding for stem cell research using embryos with no chance of survival, the Washington Times reports (Lopes, Washington Times, 4/6).
Currently, federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research is allowed only for research using embryonic stem cell lines created on or before Aug. 9, 2001, under a policy announced by President Bush on that date.
Coleman and Isakson's measure would fund research on stem cells taken from "dead" human embryos or extracted from living embryos without destroying them. In addition, it would allow federal funding for research on stem cell lines derived from embryos that are not likely to survive during the freezing process or in the womb.
According to Isakson, the measure also would promote research using stem cells derived from other sources, such as amniotic fluid.
Coleman said the bill might add to the 21 viable stem cell lines currently eligible for federal funding (California Healthline, 3/29).
According to the AP/La Crosse Tribune, the measure initially called for $5 billion in federal funds over 10 years, but the figure in the new version was replaced by the phrase "such sums" necessary.
White House spokesperson Alex Conant said that the Bush administration "strongly supports" the bill, called the Hope Offered Through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research Act, or HOPE Act (Frommer, AP/La Crosse Tribune, 4/6).
White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said, "By intensifying support for nondestructive alternatives, we can advance medical research in valuable ways while respecting ethical boundaries."
The Senate on Tuesday is scheduled to begin debate on the HOPE Act and a House-approved bill (HR 3, S 5), called the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. The House-approved measure would allow federal funding for research using stem cells derived from embryos originally created for fertility treatments and willingly donated by patients.
Fratto said that there is "no question" that Bush would veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which is similar to legislation (HR 810) he vetoed last year.
Each bill will require 60 votes to pass in the Senate, and amendments will not be allowed in either bill.
Jim Manley, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act is the only measure that would "provid[e] real hope to patients" (Washington Times, 4/6).