Specter Will Not Attach Stem Cell Research Measure to Budget Bill
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) on Friday said he will not attempt to attach language from a bill (HR 810/S 471) that would expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research to the fiscal year 2006 Labor-HHS-Education (HR 3010) appropriations measure, the New York Times reports. Specter -- who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies -- also said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has agreed to make consideration of the House-approved Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 a priority when Congress reconvenes in January 2006 (Hulse, New York Times, 10/22).
The measure would expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research and would allow funding for research using stem cells derived from embryos originally created for fertility treatments and willingly donated by patients (California Healthline, 8/3). Specter had said he might try to attach the language from the stem cell bill to the appropriations measure if Frist, a supporter of the stem cell legislation, did not set a separate date to vote on it (AP/Washington Times, 10/19). Specter said that although attaching the embryonic stem cell bill to HR 3010 would be "logical, doing so would cause controversy (Swindell, CQ Today, 10/21).
A spokesperson for Frist said that the majority leader has not made a formal commitment to Specter but added that the senators had an "understanding" on a quick vote on the bill in 2006, according to the Times (New York Times, 10/22). Specter's announcement "ensures smooth Senate passage" of the appropriations bill this week, CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 10/21).