Senate Will Postpone Embryonic Stem Cell Research Vote Until 2006

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 21, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Will Postpone Embryonic Stem Cell Research Vote Until 2006 Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 21, 2005

Washington, DC ( — A leading member of the Senate who is sponsoring a bill to overturn President Bush’s limits on embryonic stem cell research funding says he will agree to a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to put off a vote on his bill until next year.

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, threatened to attach his legislation to a federal spending bill that Senate leaders are having difficulty passing. However, because Frist agreed to work out a specific date on which to have a vote on this bill, Specter says he’ll wait until next year to push it.

In a speech on the floor of the Senate, Specter said it would add to the difficulty of approving the spending bill if he pressured the Senate to attach his measure to it.

“It would cause a multifaceted controversy with about five different positions to be inserted,” Specter said. “And the majority leader has agreed to make this a priority item at the beginning of the next session of Congress.”

"The majority leader has committed to bringing it up as one of the first items next year," Specter added.

Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who is the leading lawmakers opposed to spending tax money on the destructive research, said delaying a vote would help him be more likely to defeat the bill.

Brownback also said new revelations about alternative types of embryonic stem cell research that may be performed without destroying human life could relieve some of the pressure lawmakers face to vote for Specter’s bill.

"Science continues to move forward,” Brownback said.

The House approved its version of Specter’s bill in May, although without a veto proof majority. President Bush has promised to veto the bill because he doesn’t want to spend any public funds on new embryonic stem cell research because it would involve the destruction of unborn children in their earliest days.

Instead, President Bush has spent more than $400 million on research using adult stem cells, which have already provided cures and treatments for dozens of diseases and conditions.

Frist previously said he would allow a vote on the measure by the end of the year, and some advocates of embryonic stem cell research hope the vote won’t be delayed. However, Frist says the Senate is busy with several other contentious issues such as hurricane relief, approving spending bills and the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers.

"The problem is, when do you get the floor time," Specter said earlier.

Whenever the bill comes up for a vote, pro-life groups plan to strongly oppose it and to urge pro-life lawmakers to engage in a filibuster to prevent its passage. They point to the fact that embryonic stem cell research has not cured any patients while the use of adult stem cells can treat dozens of diseases and conditions.

A bill to establish a national umbilical cord stem cell bank is also awaiting a vote.