Senate Votes To Delay Human Cloning Debate Until January
The Senate voted 94-1 yesterday not to "force" a vote on legislation that would prohibit human cloning, choosing instead to postpone debate on the issue until next year, the Washington Post reports (Dewar, Washington Post, 12/4). Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and a group of Senate Republicans last week attached an amendment calling for a six-month moratorium on all human cloning to a proposed railroad worker retirement bill (California Healthline, 12/3). The amendment contained the
anti-cloning legislation along with an energy proposal calling for drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Washington Post, 12/4). Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said that combining the two proposals was meant to "pick up supporters" of both the energy proposal and the anti-cloning legislation, but he added that the strategy only "ended up driving away opponents of each issue, and those who felt each subject deserved its own debate" (Boyer, Washington Times, 12/4).
Many senators said they felt the cloning issue was too "complicated" to take immediate action. However, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) "vowed" to bring the anti-cloning bill back up again this year (Stolberg, New York Times, 12/4). Brownback added that he might try to attach the legislation to other bills set to be debated by the Senate this year, but Newsday reports that the chance of that succeeding is "waning" because Congress is set to deal with only a few more appropriations bills and other measures by mid-December (Povich, Newsday, 12/4). The New York Times reports that with the defeat of the amendment to the railroad bill, it appears "unlikely" that any cloning legislation will be passed this year (New York Times, 12/4). Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) reiterated his promise that the Senate will debate cloning legislation early next year (Washington Post, 12/4). The Senate will hold hearings on cloning today, and Advanced Cell Technology President Michael West -- whose firm announced on Nov. 25 that it had cloned human embryos -- is expected to testify (New York Times, 12/4).