The US House of Representatives voted yesterday to approve a bill that expands research on embryonic stem cells. The bill, known as HR 3 or the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, amends the Public Health Service Act to fund human embryonic stem cell research with cells that were originally created for fertility treatment. Under the bill passed by the House, individuals seeking fertility treatment would be able to donate to researchers those embryos that were in excess of their clinical need. Many are hopeful that, by researching stem cells that can generate any tissue in the human body, scientists may be able to find new cures for cancer and other serious diseases.
Many Representatives shared their personal stories of disease and illnesses to promote the measure on the floor yesterday. According to the Associated Press, Rep. Zack Space (D-OH) spoke of his 16-year-old son’s battle with juvenile diabetes, and the Chicago Tribune reports that Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) mentioned his own spinal cord injury that has confined him to a wheelchair.
President Bush already vetoed a similar bill last year, and is expected to veto again if the Senate passes the bill. The vote in the House yesterday was 253 to 174, which makes it unlikely that the House would be able to overturn any future veto by Bush.
The bill is the third of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s objectives for the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress; the House has already voted to adopt the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and to raise the minimum wage.