For the second time in less than a year, President Bush vetoed a bill which would have lifted the current ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The measure had passed in the House and Senate earlier this year by 247-176 and 63-34 margins, respectively (neither margin is veto-proof). Bush, who first enacted the funding ban in 2001, stated “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...I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line.”
Members of Congress from both major political parties were quick to criticize Bush’s decision. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, stated “This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families -- just one more example of how out of touch with reality he and his party have become.” Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a cosponsor of the House version of the bill, added “I consider this to be an overwhelming error...because of the significance of what can be done with this research.”
Democratic leaders announced that new attempts to address the issue would soon take place. In addition to reintroducing the bill Bush vetoed, Democrats plan to add a provision allowing federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells derived before June 2007 to the soon-to-be-considered fiscal year (FY) 2008 Labor and Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill. The provision would also add ethical standards to be applied for selecting embryos to be studied using federal funds.
Citizen and staff editors on the Congresspedia project have been closely following the stem cell issue on a comprehensive article on the subject, and will continue to do so as events transpire. I urge you to check it out, and improve it with your own edits!