Senate Passes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Bill, Not Veto-Proof

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 11, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Passes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Bill, Not Veto-Proof Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 11
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The U.S. Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would force taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research even though it requires the destruction of human life. However, the vote fell short of the 67 needed to override a likely presidential veto, which puts the Senate on par with the House as not having enough votes.

The Senate ultimately voted for S. 5 on a 63-34 margin.

The measure will head to a conference committee where members of the House and Senate will put together a final version of the bill to send to President Bush.

However, once he receives the bill, which is similar to one he vetoed last year, the president has indicated he would veto it.

In a statement the White House issued this week for the president, it said "Destroying nascent human life for research raises serious ethical problems, and millions of Americans consider the practice immoral."

It said the bill "would use Federal taxpayer dollars to support and encourage the destruction of human life for research."

Over the past six years, more than $130 million in taxpayer dollars has been devoted to human embryonic stem cell research consistent with the President’s policy.

Overall, more than $3 billion has gone to innovative research on all forms of stem cells under the Bush administration, contributing to proven medical treatments that use human stem cells from adult and other non-embryonic sources.

Though some senators said that funding hasn’t been enough, 85% of all embryonic stem cell studies in the world use the Bush-approved lines.

NIH spent $40 million last year on human embryonic stem cell research, and the NIH claims it has 3,000 shipments of embryonic stem cells are waiting to be distributed to researchers.

During the debate, senators backing the bill claimed it would provide hope for patients afflicted with various diseases while those opposed pointed to the use of adult stem cells as a more ethical and effective alternative.

The Family Research Council blasted some senators for misleading the public, especially on the issue of stem cell research helping those with juvenile diabetes.

"Just last night, JAMA published a groundbreaking study that showed 13 of 15 patients with Type 1 Diabetes are insulin free after receiving an adult stem cell transplant. Embryonic stem cells have not treated any patients with diabetes, and have had mixed results in mice," the group said. bio2075.html

Senators backing the bill said the funds used would only be used on frozen human embryos that would be destroyed anyway.

However, according to a Rand survey, of the 400,000 frozen embryos, 86% are designated by their parents to have children in the future. Only 2.8% are designated for research, which could only generate a maximum of 275 new stem cell lines at most.

Last year, the House and Senate approved the embryonic funding bills and President Bush vetoed the final version of the measure. The House failed to override the veto and the Senate didn’t vote but was just short of the two-thirds vote needed to override.

The November elections gave funding backers more votes and the Senate appears to have enough votes to override a veto but the House is still short — it already voted on its version of the new bill, which it approved on a 253-174 vote in January.

ACTION: Please contact your U.S. senators express your opinion on their vote on the bill to force taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. You can reach any senator at 202-224-3121 or find specific contact information by going to