Senate May Get Aggressive on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate May Get Aggressive on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 19
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The U.S. Senate is preparing to move into a more aggressive mode when it comes to legislation that would force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. Democratic leaders have decided that after the Senate approves the bill and President Bush vetoes it, the Senate will act first to override the veto.

The House has already approved the measure, but its vote came well short of the two-thirds needed to override a veto the president has promised on the measure.

As a result, Congressional Quarterly reports that Democratic leaders of both chambers want the Senate to approve its own version of the bill rather than the House-approved measure. Should that happen, the bill would head to a conference committee and it would be returned to the Senate first once the president vetoes it.

They hope a Senate vote to override the veto would put more pressure on House members to changer their mind and override President Bush.

“They have the override [votes]; we don’t,” a House Democratic aide told CQ. "It makes a very powerful statement that the Senate overrides his second veto.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, promised that he would attempt to attach the legislation to any "must-pass" measure in order to force President Bush into signing it into law.

"The president has to understand this is not going to go away," Harkin told CQ of the attempt to overturn Bush’s policy preventing funding of new research that destroys human life.

However, Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, told that " the House will sustain a veto on this legislation regardless of how much pseudo-drama Sen. Harkin scripts on the Senate side."

Harkin’s potential attempt to try to attach the embryonic stem cell research bill to other important legislation won’t work, Johnson said, because President Bush will still veto the bill.

"Under that scenario, the ‘must-pass’ bill gets vetoed, Harkin pretends that the sky will fall if the veto is not overridden, the veto is sustained anyway, the Democratic leadership then quickly removes the bad provision and passes the rest of the ‘must-pass’ bill again, and the cleaned-up bill gets signed," Johnson explained.

He concluded that, "The only purpose of such an exercise would be for Harkin and his allies to get more opportunities for demagoguery in the news media."

Related web sites:
National Right to Life –