Cheney Weighs In On Stem Cell Research
Vice President Dick Cheney has called congressional GOP leaders to "express concern" about a "widely publicized" letter from House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Republican Conference Chair J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), which "urged" President Bush to ban federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, the Wall Street Journal reports. A GOP aide said the vice president is "concerned that this issue will become a high-profile lobbying campaign by GOP leaders." The Journal reports the White House "fears" that such a campaign will "cheer on the GOP's antiabortion and Catholic allies" in the short term, but "leave them more vexed" if Bush agrees to a compromise (Wall Street Journal, 7/6). NIH guidelines established during the Clinton administration would allow federal funding of the research -- which involves using a process to extract the stem cells from the embryos, thereby destroying the embryo -- as long as the extraction was carried out by private groups. But the Bush administration put that funding on hold in order to review the "scientific and ethical implications" of the research. The Journal reports that Bush "leans" toward limiting funding to research on " a set number of embryo cells that already exist," while increasing funding for research on "less-controversial adult cells." However, the Journal reports that HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and research advocates say research is needed on "both types" of cells (Wall Street Journal, 7/6).
USA Today today examines how the debate over funding for stem cell research is "split[ing]" the Republican party, with Bush being "deluged daily with conflicting" funding demands from GOP lawmakers. The article notes that while Bush has said there are "no timetables" for announcing his decision, some aides are "pressing him" to do so before a meeting with Pope John Paul II later this month. The full article is available at http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20010706/3461983s.htm (Hall, USA Today, 7/6).