Monday, July 10, 2006

"It is something we would, frankly, like to avoid": Republicans run from Stem Cells

Rove: Bush to veto DeGette bill:
President Bush will likely cast the first veto of his presidency if the Senate, as expected, passes legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, White House aide Karl Rove said today.

"The president is emphatic about this," Rove - Bush's top political advisor and architect of his 2000 and 2004 campaigns - said in a meeting with the editorial board of The Denver Post.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. If the Senate approves the bill it would go to the president's desk.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who backs the bill, has said he will try to bring it up for a Senate vote soon.
The stem cell bill before the Senate would permit the federal government to fund research which uses embryonic stem cells derived from eggs donated to science by people who don't want their excess fertilized eggs to go to waste after a successful in vitro fertilization.

The only thing that would be better for Democrats than for Frist to bring the bill to the floor, have Republicans divide themselves publicly over it, and then for the leader of Frist's party to veto the bill, would be for a Republican Senate to bottle the bill up. Stem cells are not just good science, they're a great Democratic wedge issue. And since Senators don't spend much time in labs, we'll talk about the politics until they get out of the way of the scientists.

Last April, the Times showed how stem cells are working to Claire McCaskill's favor in the Missouri Senate race. In addition to the federal issue, very relevant for McCaskill and incumbent Jim Talent, is a state ballot measure which would make any stem cell research permitted by federal law also legal in Missouri. This would head off persistent attempts by state Republican legislators to ban such research. McCaskill supports the state amendment, while Talent… Well, truth be told, no one's quite sure what Talent thinks. Sometimes he's for the amendment, sometimes against, and frankly his spinning on the topic has gotten me dizzy.

Stem cells have tremendous potential to improve people's lives. There's no reason not to allow research using federal funding, and every reason to paint anyone who votes against as uncaring and dogmatic. To prioritize frozen embryos over real live people is the worst sort of fundamentalist silliness, and any Democrat who is running against a Republican who voted against HB 810 should be hammering that decision.

Among those Republicans: Jim Ryun of Kansas, as well as Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran, both of Kansas.

If you want to see responsible science be allowed to improve all our lives, give to Nancy Boyda and help her unseat the incumbent. And give to Dennis Moore, who supported responsible research into the uses of donated stem cells.