Two bills were approved by the Senate on Wednesday to address funding of stem cell research, but only one may make it past the presidents desk.
The first bill, which was approved 63-34, would effectively lift the presidents 2001 ban on federal funding for stem-cell research. The legislation sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is a bill that brings hope to millions of people in this country who are suffering from juvenile diabetes, Parkinsons, cancer, spinal cord injuries, and other devastating diseases and conditions, Harkin said. The bill, however, fell short of the 67 required votes to override a presidential veto. Bush last year effectively vetoed the same bill. The administrations current policy only permits federal funding for research using embryonic cell lines created prior to Aug. 9, 2001.
Immediately afterward, the Senate voted 70-28 on an alternative bill sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) that would permit federal funding of scientific research that does not harm embryos, such as deriving cells from amniotic fluid and placentas, and from embryos that have died naturally.
The Isakson bill offers alternatives that dont destroy the quality of life, Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kan.) said during floor consideration of the bill. The Isakson bill is the solution to the moral dilemma that used to surround this issue. This is a solution that the president can and will sign into law, McConnell said. -- by Jennifer Lubell