Thursday, July 20, 2006

President Vetoes HR-810 on 7-10-06

Photo and Associated Press article courtesy of AP

On July 18th, the Senate voted on three critical bioethics bills:

1) Santorum-Brownback: Fetus Farming Prohibition Act of 2006 (S. 3504)
2) Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act (S. 2754)
3) Taxpayer Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research on "spare" IVF embryos (H.R.810)

All three passed through the Senate with the first two bills passing 100-0. The third, the Human Embryo Experimentation bill (H.R.810) unfortunately passed 63-37. The good news is that President Bush vetoed this awful bill today, July 19th!

We ask you to contact the White House today and offer encouragement to the President for doing the right thing in vetoing H.R. 810. Here is the White House contact information: Comment line: 202-456-1111, or leave an email:

Following the Senate votes, the House took up both the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act of 2006 (S. 3504), and the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act (S. 2754). They passed the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act unanimously as the Senate had, but the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act did not pass. Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) joined forces and fought hard against the bill and successfully brought it down by a vote of 273-154 claiming that the bill would distract from embryonic stem cell research. Although Hawaii Right to Life strongly opposes Mr. Castle's H.R. 810, there is nothing inconsistent about voting for both H.R. 810 and S. 2754. Voting for both bills would place a Member on record as favoring federal funding of stem-cell research that requires killing human embryos, but also exploring alternative methods that do not require killing human embryos. However, if a Member votes for H.R. 810 but against S. 2754, the logical interpretation would be that the Member has no interest at all in advancing stem cell research UNLESS it is research that also requires killing human embryos. Both of Hawaii’s Senators and Representatives voted for H.R.810 and against S.2754.

We encourage you to contact your Senators and Congressmen to let them know how you feel about the way they voted on this legislation. Here is their information:
Senator Daniel Inouye (808) 541-2542 FAX: (808) 541-2549
Senator Daniel Akaka (808) 522-8970 FAX: (808) 545-4683
Representative Neil Abercrombie (808) 541-2570 FAX: (808) 533-0133
Representative Ed Case (808) 541-1986 FAX: (808) 538-0233

We have included the voting results for H.R. 810 below. Following the vote results is an article about the President’s first veto in 5&1/2 years.

Vote Results for H.R. 810 (Taxpayer Funding for Human Embryo Experimentation)
NOTE: The vote was 63 to 37. Nineteen Republicans voted in favor of this human embryo experimentation legislation and one Democrat voted against it. Unfortunately, both Hawaii Senators voted in favor of this horrible bill.

Yea : 63 Members Nay : 37 Members

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Ted Stevens (R-AK) Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Mark Pryor (D-AR) Wayne Allard (R-CO)
John McCain (R-AZ) Mel Martinez (R-FL)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Ken Salazar (D-CO) Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT) Larry Craig (R-ID)
Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Joseph Biden (D-DE) Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Thomas Carper (D-DE) Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Bill Nelson (D-FL) Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Daniel Akaka (D-HI) Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI) David Vitter (R-LA)
Tom Harkin (D-IA) Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Richard Durbin (D-IL) Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Barack Obama (D-IL) Jim Talent (R-MO)
Evan Bayh (D-IN) Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Richard Lugar (R-IN) Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Edward Kennedy (D-MA) Ben Nelson (D-NE)
John Kerry (D-MA) John Sununu (R-NH)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) John Ensign (R-NV)
Susan Collins (R-ME) Mike DeWine (R-OH)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) George Voinovich (R-OH)
Carl Levin (D-MI) Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) James Inhofe (R-OK)
Mark Dayton (D-MN) Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS) Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Trent Lott (R-MS) Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Max Baucus (D-MT) John Thune (R-SD)
Richard Burr (R-NC) John Cornyn (R-TX)
Kent Conrad (D-ND) George Allen (R-VA)
Byron Dorgan (D-ND) Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Judd Gregg (R-NH) Craig Thomas (R-WY)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Bill Frist (R-TN)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
John Warner (R-VA)
James Jeffords (I-VT)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Herbert Kohl (D-WI)
Robert Byrd (D-WV)
John Rockefeller (D-WV)

Here is an article on the subject:
Bush vetoes stem cell bill as promised

President Bush, right, holds up 15-month-old Try Jons, a frozen embryo adopted baby, from Cypress.

By MARY DALRYMPLE, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON July 19th, 2006 - President Bush cast the first veto of his presidency Wednesday, saying legislation easing limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research "crosses a moral boundary."

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said at a White House event where he was surrounded by 18 families who "adopted" frozen embryos not used by other couples, and then used those leftover embryos to have children.

"Each of these children was still adopted while still an embryo and has been blessed with a chance to grow, to grow up in a loving family. These boys and girls are not spare parts," he said.
The veto came a day after the Senate defied Bush and approved the legislation, 63-37, four votes short of the two-thirds margin needed to override. White House officials and Republican congressional leaders claimed it was unlikely that Congress could override the veto.

Bush's support was the strongest in the House, which was expected to take up the veto as early as later Wednesday.

"We will go back and sustain his veto this afternoon," veto supporter Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., told reporters at the White House after the event. "We had 52 votes to spare when it passed and I predict the House will sustain that veto."

Bush has supported federally funded research on only those stem cell lines created before Aug. 9, 2001, the date of his speech to the nation on the subject.

The president vetoed the measure shortly after it came to his desk. His position was politically popular among conservative Republicans, and it was sure to be an issue in the midterm congressional elections.

Announcing the veto, Bush was surrounded in the East Room by so-called "snowflake" families, those with children born through embryo donation. "They remind us of what is lost when embryos are destroyed in the name of research. The remind us that we all begin our lives as a small collection of cells. And they remind us that in our zeal for new treatments and cures, America must never abandon our fundamental morals," Bush said. He said the bill would have crossed a line and "once crossed, we would find it impossible to turn back."

At the same time, Bush announced he had signed another bill, passed unanimously in the House and Senate, that would pre-emptively ban "fetal farming," the prospect of raising and aborting fetuses for scientific research. Moments after Bush spoke, the vetoed legislation was returned to Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was quick to criticize the president's veto. "I am pro-life, but I disagree with the president's decision to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act," said Frist. "Given the potential of this research and the limitations of the existing lines eligible for federally funded research, I think additional lines should be made available."

Said Bush: "As science brings us every closer to unlocking the secrets of human biology, it also offers temptations to manipulate human life and violate human dignity. Our conscience in history as a nation demand that we resist this temptation.

"America was founded on the principle that we are all created equal and endowed by our creator with the right to life," he added. "We can advance the cause of science while upholding this founding promise. We can harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology. And we can ensure that science serves the cause of humanity, instead of the other way around."

Pleadings from celebrities, a former first lady and fellow Republicans had failed to t move Bush. He acted after two days of often wrenching emotional debate in Congress, punctuated by stories of personal and family suffering, that had cast lawmakers into the intersection of politics, morality and science.

Strong majorities in the House and Senate joined sentiments with most Americans in passing the bill, which would have lifted restriction currently limiting federally funded research to stem cell lines created before Aug. 9, 2001.

"I expect that the House will sustain the president's veto," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, in advance of Bush's action.

Disappointed lawmakers said they intended to keep pushing to lift the restrictions. Sen. Orrin Hatch (news, bio, voting record), R-Utah said in advance that the veto "sets back embryonic stem cell research another year or so."

The Senate voted 63-37 on Tuesday, four votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a veto. The House last year fell 50 votes short of a veto-proof margin when it passed the same bill, 238-194.

Bush had made 141 veto threats during his time in office, and the Republicans controlling Congress typically respond by changing bills to his liking.

Bush's stand against embryonic stem cell research is popular among conservative Republicans whom the party will rely on in the congressional elections this fall. Many of those opponents are the same voters who have felt alienated by Bush's actions to increase legal immigration, and the veto could bring them back into the fold.

Although many in the religious right are passionately opposed to embryonic stem cell research, most Americans support it, and Bush risks alienating that majority in the critical midterm year.

To read NRLC's letter to the House in support of the veto of H.R.810, click here.
To read or view President Bush's remarks at the White Housere: H.R.810, click here.

For more information on human embryo research, human cloning, human fetus farming, and related issues, see:
Stem Cell Research

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