Legislative DevelopmentsThe Hill
, which reports on the US Congress, ran an article about stem cell legislation at the federal level. Senators Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter, both Republicans, are planning to renew meeting with Majority Leader Bill Frist in an effort to get a bill that would loosen the restrictions on embryonic stem cell funding to the Senate Floor. A companion bill has already been passed by the U.S. House, but President Bush has promised to veto it if it passes the Senate. (This is from the man who hasn’t vetoed anything yet.) Democrats are also revving up to get the bill passed; the article reports that Senator Harry Reid is calling on Frist to call a vote by May 25. Tom Harkin, the primary Democratic sponsor of the bill, will continue to work with Specter and Hatch according to an aide.
The article also says that this is a good thing for the Democrats, since embryonic stem cell research is supported by the majority of Americans. There are other bills floating around which are complicating things for Frist (poor guy); one bill that bans human cloning would prohibit some kinds of embryonic stem cell research, and another would allow funding for “theoretical” new research that did not involve the destruction of embryos.
And, one other note in the article about the recently passed umbilical cord blood bill: “Although Bush endorsed the bill at a public ceremony in December, his recent annual budget request proposes eliminating all federal funding for the cord-blood program in three years.” Leftover funding from other departments will be sufficient. (Hello!! If there’s leftover funding, let’s use it for something like vaccinations for poor kids or AIDS prevention and leave the cord blood funding intact.)