Embryonic Stem Cell Research Debate Moves to the Senate

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Debate Moves to the Senate Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 25, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Now that the House has approved a measure that would use taxpayer funds to pay for unproven embryonic stem cell research, attention turns to the Senate, where the vote will be much closer.

Sponsors of the Senate version of the bill say they have 58 votes to approve the measure. That’s more than the 50 needed to pass the bill, but possibly short of the 60 necessary to stop a filibuster by pro-life lawmakers.

Pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican and possible presidential contender, has confirmed he will filibuster the Castle/DeGette bill the House approved Monday.

Adam Elggren, a spokesman for Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who is heading up the embryonic stem cell research bill in the Senate, tells UPI that, "We’re positive that we have a majority in the Senate."

"Senator Hatch is confident we’ve got close to 60, if not 60 already," he added.

Hatch’s bill has 32 co-sponsors, a lower percentage of co-sponsors than the House bill achieved. And an aide to a Republican leader in the Senate told UPI that "Republican leadership "is not eager to move on this."

As a result, Hatch may try to attach the embryonic research funding bill to another measure or strike a deal with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to bring it up.

"No decisions have been made when this bill would come to the floor," Frist spokesman Nick Smith indicated.

On Tuesday, Senators Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, wrote a letter to Frist urging him to quickly bring up HR 810.

If the Senate approves the measure, President Bush has promised to veto it. The House fell far short of the 290 votes needed to overturn the measure and the Senate does not appear to have the 67 votes to override a veto there.

"This bill would take us across a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life," the president said Tuesday. "Crossing this line would be a great mistake."