Congress Faces Deadline on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Policy
Unless Congress passes legislation by the end of the year to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, former President George W. Bush's policy limiting such funding would take effect, The Hill reports.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama reversed the Bush-era policy restricting federal funds for embryonic stem cell researchÂ (Pecquet, The Hill, 12/2). In August, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth issued a preliminary injunction on Obama's order, ruling that the policy violates a 1996 law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.
In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., temporarily lifted the injunction to give judges time to consider the merits of Lamberth's decision and the Obama administration's counterarguments (California Healthline, 9/14).
If Congress passes legislation to clarify the 1996 law, it would make the appeals court decision moot, according to The Hill.Â Such legislation has bipartisan support and has passed Congress twice but was vetoedÂ each timeÂ by Bush.
Opponents of the legislation say embryonic stem cell research is immoral because it requires the destruction ofÂ embryos.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who introduced the bill in the House, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is not putting the legislation before the House unless the Senate pledges to take up the bill.
DeGette said the legislation could have a chance to pass next year if it does not pass this session. However,Â Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said it is "evident that absolutely nothing will pass in the next Congress."
Castle suggested the appeals court stay that allowed funding to temporarily continue actually might have decreased the sense of urgency for passing legislation (The Hill, 12/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.