Bush Likely to See More Stem Cells Bills
Thursday, June 21, 2007; 7:56 PM
WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress who want taxpayer dollars spent on embryonic stem cell research answered President Bush's veto by advancing a spending bill Thursday that includes permission to do just that.
The Senate Appropriations Committee's 26-3 vote was only the first of several waves of Democrat-driven efforts to reverse the effect of Bush's veto a day earlier. It's not clear that any part of the plan will succeed in directing more federal funding to the controversial research before the 2008 elections.
With the gavels of Congress in their hands for the first time in a dozen years, Democrats can try to make Bush's veto hurt any candidate who sides with him.
"This will be an election issue in 2008 not just in the House, not just in the Senate, but in the presidential election," said one of the House's chief sponsors of the bill Bush vetoed, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. "We ... intend to continue bringing this up until we have a pro-stem cell president and a pro-stem cell Congress."
It was familiar rhetoric after Bush's second veto of the legislation. But this time, he is facing new Democratic congressional leaders planning to resurrect the issue in the bills they author, the committees they control and on the House and Senate floors.
Vetoing the bill a second time Wednesday, Bush also sought to placate those who disagree with him by signing an executive order urging scientists toward what he termed "ethically responsible" research.
Bush announced no new federal dollars for stem cell research, which supporters say holds the promise of disease cures, and his order would not allow researchers to do anything they couldn't do under existing restrictions.
"If this legislation became law, it would compel American taxpayers for the first time in our history to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos," Bush said. "I made it clear to Congress and to the American people that I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line."
He vetoed similar embryonic stem cell legislation last July.
Bush's executive order encourages scientists to work with the government to add other kinds of stem cell research to the list of projects eligible for federal funding _ so long as it does not create, harm or destroy human embryos.
Democrats dismissed Bush's veto as a moral affront to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have diseases that might someday be treated or cured by research into the lines derived from pluripotent - or all-purpose - embryonic stem cells. Democrats said his executive order was a meaningless gesture meant to trick people into thinking he had advanced stem cell research.
Many Republicans also support the bill Bush vetoed. At a separate news conference, DeGette's co-sponsor, Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., said Republican supporters will join in the effort to overturn the veto.