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Senate could override stemcell bill veto

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WASHINGTON, May 25 - Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican and chief sponsor of a bill to expand federal financing for human embryonic stem cell research, issued a stark challenge to President Bush on Wednesday, saying he had enough votes in the Senate to override a presidential veto of the measure.


"I don't like veto threats, and I don't like statements about overriding veto threats," Mr. Specter said, speaking at a news conference where the House backers of the measure presented him the legislation, which passed the House on Tuesday, topped with a red bow.


"But if a veto threat is going to come from the White House, then the response from the Congress is to override the veto, if we can," Mr. Specter added. "Last year we had a letter signed by some 58 senators, and we had about 20 more in the wings. I think if it really comes down to a showdown, we will have enough in the United States Senate to override a veto."


But the House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, said the bill, which garnered a majority that fell 52 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to overturn a veto, would "never become law." And Mr. Bush, appearing at a news conference with the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, restated his opposition.


"I believe that the use of federal monies that end up destroying life is not - is not positive, it's not good," Mr. Bush said. "And so, therefore, I'm against the extension of the research, of using more federal dollars on new embryonic stem cell lines."


The back-and-forth came as Mr. Specter and other supporters of embryonic stem cell research made a push for the Senate to take up the legislation. The majority leader, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, has not said whether or when he will do so.


And at least one opponent of the measure, Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, has indicated that if Dr. Frist puts the bill on the agenda, he may try to block it by filibuster.


"I have conveyed to Senate leadership that we must do everything we can procedurally to stop unethical embryonic stem cell research in the Senate, and I will work to do just that," Mr. Brownback said in a statement released Tuesday night. "We simply should not go down the road of using taxpayer dollars to kill young humans."


Scientists and advocates for patients say embryonic stem cells hold promise for the treatment of various diseases. In the human body, the stem cells can give rise to all other cells and tissues; in the laboratory, scientists are trying to coax them to do just that. But because embryos are destroyed in the extraction process, the work draws opposition from religious conservatives and abortion opponents.


In August 2001, Mr. Bush opened the door to federal financing of the science, but with strict limits. The bill pending in the Senate would expand his policy by allowing the government to pay for studies on embryos in frozen storage at fertility clinics, so long as the couples conceiving them certified they would otherwise discard them.


The Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who opposes abortion, said on Wednesday that he backed the measure.


"President Bush is wrong politically, morally and scientifically," Mr. Reid said. "We need to do this."


Debate on the research does not fall neatly along party lines; Mr. Specter appeared Wednesday with two other Republicans, Senators Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, who oppose abortion but support embryonic stem cell science. Mr. Specter, who is undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease and has lost his hair as a result, cited himself as a powerful reason to take that position.


"It is scandalous, absolutely scandalous," he said, "that there are so many people with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and heart disease and cancer - some of whom, myself, look in the mirror every day, can barely recognize myself. And not to have the ability of the best medical care is simply atrocious."



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Again i dont want my tax money going to stem cell research. Theres more important things.


I think you say that because none of these diseases affect you. Wonder if you'd be singing a different tune were that not the case. :whistle Not to mention it is the cutting edge in scientific discovery. What country wants to lead in that, though?

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Actually i was giving stem cell research some deep thought last night, and i actually feel that if the research can save human lives, not to mention generate millions in revenue if some cure for cancer os something is found, it may be beneficial to continue the research. Although im against federal funding for most things, this wouldnt be a bad one to fund.

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