On Thursday, January 11, 2007, the House of Representatives voted to approve government-financed embryo stem cell research Thursday with Bill H.R. 3. However, for the second time in two years, they were unable to gain enough votes to overcome the presidential veto, which President Bush s diehard to push through.
The vote was 253-174 which is a high percentage of votes, closer to the two-thirds majority vote needed to override President Bush’s veto. The vote set a milestone in the new Democratic majority’s path toward passing a flurry of campaign promises in the new congressional session.
Stem cells offer great hope for health care and bipartisan lawmakers on both sides of the issue argued their cases with personal stories and fought over the scientific ethics.
Democrat Representative Zach Space of Ohio said to “those who do not have the will to stand up against a presidential veto,” that his 16-year-old son battled diabetes and asked what he would see in the future as an adult. He continued that “This research represents the only meaningful hope for a cure in my son’s lifetime.”
Embryonic stem cells hold the possibility of medical breakthroughs because they have the capability of becoming any tissue in the body. The research involves the destruction of frozen embryos created for in vitro fertilization, an act that opponents fight over.
President Bush banned the use of federal government funding to research spent on new stem cells from fertilized embryos in 2001. This legislation would lift Bush’s veto.
Actor Michael J. Fox increased awareness in this matter with political ads during the fall of 2006’s congressional elections. Being a major aspect of the voters’ concerns, Democrats credit Fox and others for helping drive Republicans from power in Congress this year.
The Bush administration said Thursday that “Government interference impedes competition, limits access to lifesaving drugs, reduces convenience for beneficiaries and ultimately increases costs to taxpayers, beneficiaries and all American citizens alike.” Bush has only used his veto power once, when he rejected the last stem cell bill. The new Democratic majority is likely to fight his veto more in the next two years.
The bill also has bipartisan support in the Senate but the Senate bill, which is not likely to come up for some time, could undergo future amendments that would require it to be adjusted to the House version.
Lawrence Soler, vice president of government relations for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation said that “You take it one step at a time. The bipartisan support for the overall issue is going to stand firm. That process will open up opportunities to have discussions with the administration.”