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Senate to Consider Stem Cell Proposals

by Pamela Leavey

Yesterday, Senate leaders from both parties agreed to schedule a vote on a package of stem cell research bills that would loosen Bush’s five-year-old restrictions on the research.

With head counts suggesting there are enough votes to pass the legislation and with Bush having promised he would veto it, yesterday’s action sets the stage for what could be the first full-blown showdown between the chamber and the president.

The package, which includes language identical to that passed by the House, would allow federal funding of research on embryos that have been slated for destruction at fertility clinics. Those days-old embryos are rich in embryonic stem cells, which scientists say have great potential to treat a wide variety of ailments, including spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy issued the following statement in reaction to the stem cell legislation agreement that was reached:

“This important agreement brings new hope for millions of Americans awaiting new cures. For nearly five long years, the unwarranted restrictions that the Bush Administration imposed on stem cell research have delayed responsible progress toward new cures and better treatments for Parkinson’s Disease, spinal injury, diabetes, and many other serious illnesses. I commend the Majority Leader for his efforts to see that the Senate will now have the opportunity to vote to end the Administration’s restrictions, and unlock the lifesaving potential of stem cell research. I urge my colleagues to vote for patients, for progress, and for the hope that stem cell research brings.”

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