Proposed Cloning Bans ‘Appear Dead’ in Senate, Passage Not Likely Anytime Soon
A bill sponsored by Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would ban all forms of human cloning has "stalled" in the Senate, and it now appears unlikely that the bill -- or an alternative measure sponsored by Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) -- will win passage anytime soon, the New York Times reports. The Senate has been roughly evenly divided in its support of the Brownback-Landrieu bill (S 1899), which is identical to legislation passed in July by the House and has the support of President Bush, and the Kennedy-Feinstein bill (S 2439), which would ban reproductive cloning while allowing therapeutic cloning for research purposes. About 12 Senators remain undecided, according to the Times. The bills appeared to be headed to a vote earlier this week, but they "fell victim to partisan in-fighting," as party leaders could not agree on how to bring the bills to the Senate floor and which bill would be voted on last, the Times reports.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), a supporter of therapeutic cloning, wanted to bring the Brownback-Landrieu bill to the floor first, saying, "We wanted the final vote to be the vote on the proposal that the majority supports" (Stolberg, New York Times, 6/14). However, Brownback opposed the plan out of fear that if his bill failed, its supporters would back the Feinstein-Kennedy bill in order to pass some sort of restrictions on human cloning. "The offer put forward was very unfavorable and would not have been a fair consideration of the issue. It was clearly stacked to give (proponents of the limited ban) the most benefit," Brownback said. He then offered to accept the plan if amendments could be proposed to the Kennedy/Feinstein bill, but Daschle rejected the offer (Rovner, Reuters Health, 6/13). Daschle, who cloning opponents said was trying to "obstruct" the passage of a total cloning ban, said that he felt he had completed his "obligation" to give cloning legislation a fair hearing in the Senate, adding that he does not "have any further designs, further plans to bring the bill back." Daschle stated that it is now up to the bills' sponsors to "decide what they want to do." Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), a supporter of the Brownback bill, agreed that Daschle had "fulfilled his obligation" and said that "more pressing matters," such as the defense authorization bill, must now be addressed in the Senate (Fagan, Washington Times, 6/14). Although the prospect of a cloning ban "appears dead" for this year, both sides, confident that they can win the 60 votes necessary to pass a cloning ban, have said that they "would not give up" on their respective bills, the New York Times reports (New York Times, 6/14).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.