Congress Vows to Push Stem Cell Funding

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) — Some U.S. senators say they’ll push for a bill to make President Barack Obama’s stem cell funding policy the law of the land.

As the National Institutes of Health fights in court for permission to resume long-term funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Penn., spoke in support of the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The bill would signal Congress’s intent to allow federal funds to be used on the research, controversial because the cells are derived from human embryos, the newspaper said.

Congress has already passed the bill twice, in 2005 and in 2007, but it was vetoed both times by President George W. Bush.

It was re-introduced in February 2009, but movement on it stopped after Obama expanded stem cell funding through an executive order.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth halted the funding, saying it violated guidelines that forbid the federal government from funding research in which human embryos are harmed or destroyed.

An appeals court temporarily blocked Lamberth’s ruling last week.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who re-introduced the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act last year, said he would hold a hearing Thursday titled “The Promise of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.”

Among those scheduled to testify are National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and researchers Sean Morrison of the Center for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Michigan, and Dr. George Daley of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, the Times reported.

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