Page URL:

US House approves ES cell research funding

15 January 2007
Appeared in BioNews 391

The US House of Representatives has voted in favour of legislation to expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act 2007 was passed by 253 votes to 174, but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a Presidential veto. The bill would allow federal funding for stem cell research on so-called surplus embryos from fertility treatments, which are otherwise destroyed immediately afterwards. Currently only privately-funded ES cell research is permitted in the US.

'Today, by passing legislation to expand stem cell research, the House gave voice to the hopes of more than 100 million Americans and their families', said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 'With today's strong bipartisan vote, we now challenge President Bush to join members from both sides of the aisle in supporting the hope of stem cell research', she added. Despite polls showing most Americans support ES cell research, these hopes are unlikely to be fulfilled, however, as President Bush is expected to resist any challenges to his current position on ES cell research. The White House has indicated that President Bush's stance on the issue has not changed since he vetoed the Stem Cell Enhancement Act 2005 last July, and the President is expected to veto the current proposals. White House spokesman Tony Fratto issued a statement saying, 'The president will certainly veto the legislation if it comes to his desk because it would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells'.

Although the Democrats gained 30 seats in the House after last November's mid-term elections, supporters of embryonic stem cell research only rose by 15 votes. 290 votes are required to override a Presidential veto, and for the bill to become law both the House and the Senate must override the veto by a two-thirds majority.

Republicans in the House have indicated they may offer an alternative proposal exploring research using newly-discovered 'amniotic stem cells'. A recent US study has shown that stem cells derived from amniotic fluid may harbour the same potential benefits as those taken from embryos. 'The stem cell debate is only the first in what will be an onrushing train of biotechnology challenges in our future...We must establish a constructive precedent here for taking the moral dimensions of these issues seriously', said the report, published in the January edition of Nature Biotechnology. The senior author of the report, Anthony Atala, later commented, 'Some may be interpreting my research as a substitute for the need to pursue other forms of regenerative medicine therapies, such as those involving embryonic stem cells...I disagree with that assertion'.

The Senate will now vote on the legislation.

Stem cell bill sails through House
Yahoo Daily News |  12 January 2007
US House backs stem cell research
BBC News Online |  11 January 2007
US lawmakers approve expanded stem cell research
New Scientist |  11 January 2007
White House To Release Report Highlighting Nonembryonic Stem Cell Research Progress
Kaiser Network |  10 January 2007
9 March 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
US President Barack Obama has announced plans to lift the ban on the federal funding of embryonic stem (ES) cell research, put in place by his predecessor George W Bush more than eight years ago. Obama is expected to sign an executive order legalising the use of...
12 January 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
As President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration date approaches, Democrats in the US are considering the best way to overturn the current restrictions on embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Mr Obama has already indicated that his administration will relax the restrictions but he now must decide whether to do...
23 April 2007 - by Sam Berger and Professor Jonathan Moreno 
It appears that once again the US Congress will be unable to override President Bush's expected veto of legislation to loosen federal restrictions on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. In light of this political stalemate, as well as efforts in states like California, New Jersey, and New York to...
17 April 2007 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The Senate has passed two pieces of legislation designed to relax the restrictions on stem cell research in the US. It has approved a much-anticipated bill to ease current restrictions on human embryonic stem cell (ES) research, allowing for federal funding to be used for research on...
26 March 2007 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Elias Zerhouni, has said that he supports the removal of the current restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research imposed by President Bush in 2001. 'From my standpoint, it is clear today that...
13 November 2006 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
By Antony Blackburn-Starza: There's a feeling of change in relation to embryonic stem (ES) cell research in the US following the mid-term elections, which saw the Democrats capturing both the Senate and the House of Representatives from the Republicans. In the state of Missouri, where ES cell research was a...
6 November 2006 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A vote will take place this week in the US state of Missouri on proposed changes the State's constitution to allow all kinds of stem cell research to take place. The Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative - also known as Amendment 2 - will permit so-called therapeutic...
20 July 2006 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
US President George Bush has vetoed a bill passed by Congress that would have removed restrictions on federally-funded human embryonic stem (ES) cell research in America. The bill - known as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (HR 810) - was debated alongside two other bills...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.