Friday, June 22, 2007

Stem Cells or Die!

It's a political move sure to take the embryonic stem cell debate to the next level.

Senators Tom Harkin and Arlen Spector have inserted a clause into the Labor & Health and Human Services appropriations bill to permit funding for embryonic stem cell research on cell lines created before June 15, 2007. (The text is still not up on Thomas yet (6/24) - I will link to it when it is.) Initial reports are available here and here.

If this appropriations bill makes it to George Bush's desk, he would have to veto the entire spending bill just to protect his stance on the stem cell wedge issue.

So if Bush stands by his ideology, he will have to tank the entire budget of the National Institutes of Health, Medicaid, the Food and Drug Administration, No Child Left Behind, Social Security, Pell Grants and many more. All of this accounts to more than $150 billion in receipts. Anyone remember the actual amount of federal spending on embryonic stem cells has hovered around since 2003? $25 million.

Is this a dirty trick or an act of genius? I suppose it depends which side you are on!

As an insightful friend of mine pointed out, someone (Brownback) will probably introduce an amendment to strike that section when the bill comes to the Senate floor. But as the last bill made clear, there will probably not be enough support for such a change to pass.

This should be fun. Stay tuned!

(For a bonus prize, guess which elected official referred to in this post I have voted for.)

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