Senate shies away from stem cell discussion

The media in the past couple of days are telling us that the U.S. Senate is probably not going to debate stem cells in this legislative session. This may also mean that bills for adult stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells will also wither and die. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), who's busy with other more personal matters at the moment, would postpone voting until 2006 on a bill (HR 810/S 471) to expand federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005--which has been approved by the House but has stalled in the Senate--would expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. It also would allow funding for research using stem cells derived from embryos originally created for fertility treatments and willingly donated by patients Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Arlen Specter (R-PA), has threatened to attach the issue to some other spending measure, but might abandon his threat if Frist will set a specific date for 2006. Proponents of the embryonic stem cell bill would like a vote before the end of 2005; however, the calendar is booked with disaster relief, annual budget discussions, and confirmation hearings for the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. Marie Godfrey, PhD
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