Embryonic Stem Cell Research Backers Can’t Agree on Override Figures

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Backers Can’t Agree on Override Figures Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 28
, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Those who favor embryonic stem cell research agree on one thing: taxpayers ought to be forced to pay for it with federal money. What they don’t seem to be together on is whether Congress has enough votes to override a presidential veto of a measure to do that.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, new Senate Majority Leader harry Reid confirmed again that the embryonic stem cell research funding measure would be a top legislative priority next year.

Reid said he hoped President Bush would "relent and see the light" and support the measure to mandate that tax money be spent on an unproven research that destroys human life.

But on the issue of whether Congress could override a second veto, Reid told AP the Senate is "not even close" to having the two-thirds necessary to overturn it.

That view contrasts with others who say the votes are in the bag and is at odds with last year’s Senate vote, which came much closer to the two-thirds figure than did the House.

Just last week, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Salt Lake Tribune, "I think we have the votes in the Senate to override a veto, and we may have them in the House. I think we can get there."

"According to some, we’re only a couple votes short, and I think I know where those votes are," the Utah senator added.

Others say there are still not enough votes to override a veto.

Robert Klein, who heads the California agency charged with spending billions on embryonic stem cell research and human cloning there, says he thinks there are enough votes to overturn a veto in the Senate, but not the House.

"Based on their known positions, we have a veto-proof Senate. The challenge will be the House, where we need about 35 votes on the Republican side," he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat who was a leading sponsor of the funding bill in the House, said she has spoken with many of the 41 new Democrats in the chamber. She thinks there may be enough votes there to override a potential second veto.

But House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi admitted that the elections probably did not provide enough votes to override a second veto. She told the Washington Post Democrats hope to "build public support for a signature" instead in an attempt to persuade Bush to change his mind.

The White House has said the president is firm in his position that federal funds shouldn’t be used to pay for new embryonic stem cell research where human life will be destroyed.

Bush vetoed the previous funding bill in July and the House voted 235-193 in favor of overriding the veto, but the vote was 51 short of the two-thirds necessary to override it. The Senate voted for the bill 63-37, which was four votes short of being able to override a veto.

The elections increased the number of votes embryonic stem cell research proponents have in both chambers and appeared to have given backers enough votes in the Senate with losses of pro-life senators from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, and Montana.

However, Tennessee Sen.-elect Bob Corker campaigned as someone who had recently come to embrace the pro-life position and he may vote differently from the man he replaced, former Sen. Bill Frist.

Sen.-elect Bob Casey of Pennsylvania will be lobbied heavily on the issue from both sides and, while he opposes abortion, he may not stand with pro-life advocates in opposing embryonic stem cell research funding.

Polls show Americans aren’t clamoring for their tax dollars to pay for the destruction of human life for embryonic stem cell research that has yet to help any patients and may never do so.

A new poll conducted by Newsweek in August showed a decline in the support for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. According to the poll, 48 percent of Americans favor funding embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer funds while 40 percent say they don’t.

That eight percent margin is down from an October 2005 Newsweek poll showing a 50-36 percentage split — or a 14 percent margin. That means support for funding embryonic stem cell research with tax dollars is down 6 percent from late last year.

Other polls show lower support for using taxpayer dollars to pay for embryonic stem cell research.

Conducted by International Communications Research in mid-May, a poll found 48% of Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos. Just 39% support such funding and another 12 percent had no position.

The ICR survey found 57% favored funding only the research avenues that do not harm the donor. Just 24% favored funding all stem cell research, including the type that involves destroying human embryos.

Adult stem cells have already produced 70 cures or treatments for various conditions including various cancers such as breast cancer, lymphomas, leukemia, arthritis, heart damage, Parkinsons, Sickle Cell Anemia and other disorders.