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Senate Will Debate Stem Cell Research

Supporters of Funding Bill Say It Will Pass; Some Lawmakers Expect Presidential Veto

Veto Threat

Even if supporters muster the 60 votes needed to pass the bill Tuesday night, lawmakers on both sides say they expect the president will veto it.

"We expect a veto as early as Wednesday afternoon," a senior Democratic aide says.

Still, Bush could pair his veto with support for two other bills also scheduled for Senate debate Monday and Tuesday. One would ban the implantation of an embryo in the womb of a woman or animal for research purposes.

Another would open federal funding for experimental methods of extracting stem cells without damaging embryos.

Researchers testified on Capitol Hill earlier this month that alternative extraction methods remain theoretical, but that the techniques are worth pursuing.

The bill could offer lawmakers -- and the president -- a way to support some stem cell research popular with voters without violating their vows not to support studies that harm embryos, says Rep. Phil Gingrey, (R-Ga.), who supports the alternative measure but opposes the embryonic stem cell research bill.

Gingrey tells WebMD that he and other conservatives are "counting on" President Bush to veto the expansion of research that destroys embryos, even if the decision causes political trouble for Republicans in this year's elections.

"I think it definitely could be a political liability if we didn't have the other bill as an alternative," says Gingrey, who is a doctor.

The Senate is expected to vote on all three bills on Tuesday evening.

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