Congressional Lawmakers Will Try to Finalize Bill to Help Terri Schiavo

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressional Lawmakers Will Try to Finalize Bill to Help Terri Schiavo Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 19, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Her feeding tube may have been removed Friday afternoon, but House and Senate leaders say they are still focused on passing legislation that would help Terri Schiavo. Lawmakers are working over the weekend to find a way to finalize legislation allowing Terri’s parents to take their case to federal courts.

"We will be working through the weekend to resolve the differences and reach an effective solution that can clear our chambers and be signed by the President," House Speaker Denny Hastert said late Friday afternoon.

"The House and Senate leadership are committed to reaching an agreement on legislation that provides an opportunity to save Mrs. Schiavo’s life," Hastert added.

David Gibbs, the lead attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler, told the Associated Press he hopes Congressional officials will do a better job working together to pass a bill after the House and Senate passed differing versions of legislation to protect Terri on Thursday and then adjourned for Easter recess.

"I’m hopeful these men and women can get a strategy, get a focus, because we’re running out of time," Gibbs said.

In addition to Congressional legislation, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said he would pursue contempt charges against Circuit Court Judge George Greer for ignoring Congressional subpoenas issued on Friday.

"The Congress will pursue this, if we have to hold him in contempt of Congress," DeLay told radio talk show host Sean Hannity.

"We will do everything to enforce the power and authority of the Congress and no little judge sitting in a state district court in Florida is going to usurp the authority of Congress," DeLay added.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, echoed DeLay’s concerns.

Congressional leaders had hoped the legal power behind the subpoenas would protect Terri until the March 28 hearing they request.

"Federal criminal law protects witnesses called before official Congressional committee proceedings from anyone who may obstruct or impede a witness’ attendance or testimony," Frist explained.

"Anyone who violates this law is subject to criminal fines and imprisonment," Frist said.

In reissuing his order to allow Terri’s estranged husband Michael to begin her starvation death, Judge Greer, he told attorneys for both sides, "I have had no cogent reason why the [congressional] committee should intervene."

Georgetown Law professor Paul Rothstein says the subpoenas were legally sound.

"I think Judge Greer is making a legal mistake and is vulnerable," Rothstein told Newsday. "Provided that Congress is making legitimate investigations for making law, they have the power to seek evidence."

In an interview on "Good Morning America" on Saturday, Michael blasted DeLay’s comments, saying, "You have Tom DeLay … making absurd statements that Terri said she didn’t want to die. How does he know that? He’s never met her."

"Nobody wants to live in this condition, but the answer is that we don’t starve humans to death," said Terri’s brother, Bob Schindler, responded.

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