Senate To Debate Stem Cell Bills After Recess
The Senate plans to debate two stem cell-related bills after the spring recess, including a House-approved measure (HR 3, S 5) that would allow federal funding for research using stem cells derived from embryos originally created for fertility treatments and willingly donated by patients, CongressDaily reports (Johnson, CongressDaily, 3/28).
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.
The House-approved bill, which passed by a 253-174 vote, is the same as a bill (HR 810) Bush vetoed last year, and the White House in a statement released in January reiterated Bush's intent to veto the measure.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has said that if Bush vetoes the measure, known as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, then he will try to attach it to any "must-do" legislation ( California Health Line, 3/20).
The other bill scheduled for debate combines provisions from a bill sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and legislation sponsored by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). The provisions included from Coleman's proposal would fund research on stem cells taken from "dead" human embryos or extracted from living embryos without destroying them, CongressDaily reports.
Isakson's provisions 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. He added that Bush would not oppose the legislation, CongressDaily reports (Congress Daily, 3/28).