White House Restates Bush Veto Threat
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) on Monday at a news conference regarding the first day of Senate debate on three stem cell-related bills said President Bush will receive "a request from a large delegation of senators, including many of the president's strongest allies on the Republican side, urging him to sign" a House-approved bill (HR 810) that would expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, McClatchy/San Jose Mercury News reports (Talev, McClatchy/San Jose Mercury News, 7/18). Specter also said former first lady Nancy Reagan, an embryonic stem cell research advocate, might call Bush to discuss the issue (Hook, Los Angeles Times, 7/18).
However, the White House on Monday issued a statement saying Bush would veto the measure -- called the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which would allow funding for research using stem cells derived from embryos originally created for fertility treatments and willingly donated by patients -- if it is passed by the Senate. The measure "would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells, overturning the president's policy that funds research without promoting such ongoing destruction," the statement says (Hulse, New York Times, 7/18).
Bush on Aug. 9, 2001, announced a policy that allows federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research only when it uses stem cell lines created on or before that date.
The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which seeks to address Bush's policy, along with two other stem cell-related bills.
A measure (S 2754) -- sponsored by Sens. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Specter, and also up for vote -- would require NIH to research and fund methods of creating embryonic stem cell lines without destroying human embryos. The bill contains a rule that the measure would not affect any regulations regarding embryonic stem cells, human cloning or any other research methods that currently are prohibited and calls for research on adult stem cells.
A third bill (S 3504) to be considered, sponsored by Santorum and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), would make it illegal to conduct research on embryos from "fetal farms," where human embryos could be made in a nonhuman uterus or from human pregnancies that were created specifically for the purpose of research.
Under terms of an agreement reached by Senate leaders of both parties, bills will need at least 60 votes to pass and amendments will not be permitted (California Healthline, 7/17).
Both the Santorum and Brownback bills face "little or no opposition," and Bush is expected to sign them if approved by both chambers, the AP/Forbes reports (Kellman , AP/Forbes, 7/18).
Lawmakers in favor of and opposed to the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act said they expect the bill to receive the 60 votes needed for passage but could not say if it would receive the 67 votes required to override a presidential veto, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Kellman, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/18).
The House last year voted 238-194 to pass the measure, a vote count 50 votes shy of the number needed to override a potential veto. Although the number of representatives voting to override a potential Bush veto is expected to be higher than 238, no one has predicted enough support for an override, according to the AP/Forbes (Kellman , AP/Forbes, 7/17).
- APM's "Marketplace": The segment includes comments from Brownback, Richard Hayes of the Center for Genetics and Society and Evan Snyder at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Wicai, "Marketplace," APM, 7/17). The complete transcript is available online. The complete audio of the segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- APM's "Marketplace": The segment includes comments from Jesse Reynolds at the Center for Genetics and Society (Gardner, "Marketplace," APM, 7/17). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- PBS's "NewsHour": The segment includes comments from Brownback; Frist; Harkin; and a debate between Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Robert George, a member of the president's Council on Bioethics (Dentzer/Suarez, "NewsHour" PBS, 7/17). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
VOA News: The segment includes comments from Brownback, former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, Feinstein, Specter and a Pennsylvania man with a damaged spinal cord (Tate, VOA News, 7/17). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- WBUR's "Here and Now": The segment includes a discussion with Gail Chaddock, congressional correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor ("Here and Now," WBUR, 7/17). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.