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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

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Senate OKs Stem Cell Research Bill

Law Would Expand Funding; Presidential Veto Expected
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 18, 2006 -- The Senate voted to greatly expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research Tuesday, even as lawmakers prepared for President Bush to quickly veto the measure.

The White House issued an official veto threat Monday, and lawmakers and aides say they expect the president to veto the bill as early as Wednesday. That would likely be followed by a vote Wednesday night in the House on whether to override the veto.

"It will be pretty swift once you have a duly passed bill," White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters before the vote Tuesday.

Treatment Potential

Senators voted to repeal a policy ordered by President Bush in August 2001 that limited federal research to 77 embryonic stem cell lines already created at the time. Bush said then that the policy would let stem cell research proceed without promoting research that destroys human embryos for their cells.

But only about a quarter of the lines have proven viable for study. Backers of the research have lobbied ever since to broaden the research because of its potential to treat diseases, including diabetesdiabetes and Parkinson's diseaseParkinson's disease.

The bill, which passed the Senate 63-37, expands federal funding to an estimated 400,000 embryos formed for in vitro fertilization but no longer needed for the treatment. Scientists want to use the embryos to grow potentially thousands of cell lines that could be used to generate hundreds of kinds of human tissue.

"It is clear we either use them or destroy them," said Sen. Arlen Specter, (R-Pa.), a chief sponsor of the bill.

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