Senate passes stem cell bill, setting stage for first Bush veto

Senate passes stem cell bill, setting stage for first Bush veto

[JURIST] The US Senate voted [roll call] Tuesday afternoon to increase federal funding for embryonic stem cell research [JURIST news archive], but the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act [PDF text; HR 810 summary] fell four votes shy of the two-thirds supermajority needed to survive an expected White House veto [JURIST report] – President Bush's first. At an afternoon press briefing [transcript], press secretary Tony Snow promised "pretty swift" action once the bill arrives at the White House. Snow also reiterated the administration's position on the bill:

What the President has said is that he doesn't want human life destroyed. … The President believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder; he's one of them.

Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that this government did make available already existing lines [of stem cells]. … And the most recent figures we have are 2004, but 85 percent of all the embryonic stem cell research on Earth was conducted using those lines. There is nothing that makes embryonic stem cell research illegal; it simply says that the federal government will not finance it. As you know, there are ongoing efforts in some states, including, I think, California and Massachusetts, to use state money for it, and I daresay if people think that there's a market for it, they're going to support it handsomely. The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong….

The House could vote on whether to override a veto as soon as Wednesday evening.

Snow said two other stem cell bills passed by the Senate today "await a presidential signature." They are the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act [S. 2754 bill summary], which will foster stem cell research on stem cells taken from sources other than embryos, and the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act [text; S. 3504 summary], which will prohibit "fetal farming," the method of creating fetuses for the sole purpose research. Those bills have not yet been passed by the House. AP has more.