Embryonic Stem Cell Research Backers Down 39 Votes, Starting Lobbying

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Backers Down 39 Votes, Starting Lobbying Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 1
, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Supporters of a measure to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research are short of the two-thirds needed to overturn a likely second presidential veto by at least 39 votes in the House. Lawmakers pushing the bill are slated to meet next week to begin coordinating their lobbying strategy to get those votes.

As LifeNews.com previously reported, leading embryonic stem cell research funding backers can’t agree on whether there are enough votes in the House and Senate to override another veto from President Bush.

Bush vetoed the previous funding bill in July and the House voted 235-193 in favor of overriding the veto with 5 abstentions, 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 House is the major obstacle as they appears to be just enough votes on the Senate side for an override.

Looking at the House vote, 51 Republicans backed the funding measure and, of those, 15 lost their re-election bids or retired. Twelve of the 15 Republicans lost to Democrats and the Hotline political newsletter reports that just two of the three other Republicans will back the bill.

Democrats picked up 14 seats in the mid-term elections from Republicans who voted against the measure. Though a couple of the new Democrats campaigned on opposition to abortion, that may not translate into votes against embryonic stem cell research funding.

Assuming all of the new Democrats will support the measure, that the five abstaining members last time vote for the override, and that the three Republicans replacing retired members vote for the override as well, supporters of the bill have 251 votes for an override.

That still leaves them 39 votes short of enough to overturn the president’s veto, assuming all members vote on the veto override.

The Hotline reports that Reps. Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican, and Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, the two leading sponsors of the House funding measure, are preparing to coordinate their legislative strategy to find those 39 votes.

According to newsletter, they plan to rely on claims that stem cell research was popular with voters in the 2006 elections. They will likely target 10 moderate Republicans who voted no and members in districts with large medical facilities, especially in California.

However, polls show that stem cell research wasn’t an issue that helped backers of taxpayer funding of it. In fact one survey showed the issue of stem cell research helped a pro-life candidate.

A post-election poll conducted by Fox News finds that, in the Missouri Senate race, which was dominated by embryonic stem cell research, neither the issue nor ads from actor Michael J. Fox helped Claire McCaskill. In fact, the ads benefited pro-life Sen. Jim Talent, who opposed taxpayer funding of the controversial science.

Fox News asked Missouri voters whether the embryonic stem cell research ad campaign made voters more or less likely to vote for McCaskill, who Fox endorsed in the commercials.

A whopping 71 percent said the ads made "No difference" in their vote.

Only 7 percent said the ads made them more likely to support McCaskill but a larger group of voters, 18 percent, said Fox’s commercials made them less likely to support her.

Of those voters who said it made them less likely to vote for her some 94 percent ended up supporting pro-life Sen. Jim Talent, who opposed embryonic stem cell research funding.

The Fox News poll also found that the issue of stem cell research in general didn’t provide any advantage to McCaskill.

Almost half of voters said embryonic stem cell research made no difference in how they voted.

And among the 25 percent who said the issue was extremely important to their vote, 59 percent favored Talent while just 39 percent backed McCaskill. That means opponents of the research, which involves the destruction of human life, were more energized than its supporters.