Stem Cells, Cloning Dropped From Labor-HHS Spending Bill
A measure that would have allowed an expansion of federally funded embryonic stem cell research and proposed amendments that would have banned all forms of human cloning have been dropped from the $123.1 billion FY 2002 Labor-HHS Appropriations bill (S 1536) to avoid "lengthy debate" over the bill on the Senate floor, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Carter, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/2). Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) had attached language to the spending bill that would allow President Bush to grant broader federal funding for embryonic stem cell research conducted on donated embryos that "otherwise would be destroyed," contingent upon the permission of the couple who underwent the fertility treatments to create the embryo. The measure would have gone beyond Bush's stem cell policy, announced in August, which limited federal funding to the 64 stem cell lines derived before his announcement. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who opposed Specter's stem cell language, had planned to counter the measure by introducing several amendments to the spending bill that would ban all forms of human cloning, prohibit the creation of embryos for research and bar the creation of "animal-human hybrid embryos." Brownback's measures would have banned cloning for both therapeutic and reproductive purposes, which could have "render[ed] stem cell research effectively moot." Antiabortion lawmakers "threatened a lengthy debate" over Specter's stem cell provisions, and the White House had previously expressed intent to veto the spending bill if the measure was included (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/2). The Washington Post reports that the debate over stem cell research and cloning "could have tied [Congress] in knots as it rushes to finish business for the year" (Washington Post, 11/2). Specter and Brownback said they reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to withdraw their measures until the Senate "had time to hold extensive debate" on the topics of cloning and stem cell research (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/2). Specter said that such debate may occur during "the February-March time frame" (AP/Washington Times, 11/2).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.