Washington Congress on Thursday again sent the White House a bill to lift restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. And President Bush vowed to veto the legislation for the second time in as many years.
The House voted 247-176 to pass the legislation Thursday. The Senate cleared the bill 63-34 in April. Both margins were short of the two-thirds supermajority that would be necessary to override a presidential veto.
Advocates of embryonic stem cell research contend the administration's restrictions have slowed the development of treatments for those suffering from spinal-cord injuries and a range of diseases. Embryonic stem cells are capable of morphing into any type of cell in the human body.
"Bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress have passed similar legislation before," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Yet, with his cruel veto pen, President Bush dashed the hopes of many for the healing potential of stem cell research. Today, we, along with millions of Americans, are hoping for a different outcome."
Opponents contend that because culling stem cells results in destruction of embryos, the research destroys human life.
The bill would permit funding for research on embryos only if they were donated from in-vitro fertilization clinics, if they would "otherwise be discarded" and if donors gave their approval.
"No stem cell would ever be taken from an embryo that was not destined to be destroyed in any event," said Rep. Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican who has long bucked his party leaders to support the measure.
Following the House vote, Bush promptly issued a written statement vowing to reject the measure.
"If this bill were to become law, American taxpayers would for the first time in our history be compelled to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos," Bush said. "Crossing that line would be a grave mistake. For that reason, I will veto the bill passed today."