by Steven Ertelt
December 18, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — After initially balking at allowing a vote on a key bill to promote adult stem cell research, Senate Democrats allowed a vote on the measure. The Senate approved the bill Friday night and the House accepted the Senate changes on Saturday.
That means the legislation, which would promote a national promote to encourage the use of cord blood stem cells, is on its way to President Bush.
The measure would provide $79 million in federal funding for the collection and storage of umbilical cord blood because they favor an embryonic stem cell research proposal.
Congressman Chris Smith, a pro-life New Jersey Republican, hailed the votes.
"We will now be able to turn medical waste — umbilical cords and placentas — into medical miracles for huge numbers of very sick and terminally ill patients, who suffer from such maladies as leukemia and sickle cell anemia," he said.
"Cord blood stem cells are already treating patients and now, for the first time ever, my bill will establish a nationwide stem cell transplantation system once it becomes law," Smith added.
President Bush is expected to sign the measure.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist tried to bring up HR 2520 on Thursday, but pro-abortion Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, said he only wanted to allow a vote on it if Frist would agree to a vote on HR 810.
That’s a bill that would overturn President Bush’s limits on any taxpayer funding of new embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human life. It would also allow the destruction of human embryos at fertility clinics.
Harkin came back to the Senate floor later to announce the had released the old on Smith’s bill, which he put on it to allow his caucus time to discuss the matter.
Frist has agreed to allow a vote on the controversial measure early next year and pro-life groups will vigorously oppose it. President Bush has already indicated he will veto the bill.
Smith’s bill provides a total of $265 million for life-saving stem cell therapeutic therapy, cord blood and bone marrow treatment.
The legislation authorizes $79 million dollars for the collection of cord blood stem cells with the goal of reaching a total inventory of 150,000 units, making matched stem cells available to treat more than 90 percent of patients, with a particular focus on providing genetic diversity.
It also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system at $186 million over the next 5 years and combines both systems — cord blood and bone marrow — under a new program to provide an easy, single access point for information for doctors and patients.
Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells. Currently hospitals throw millions of them away each year because the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them is not available.
The House of Representatives had previously approved the bill in Ma on a 431-1 vote and the Senate signed off on it after minor changes.