The House voted yesterday for the third time in the past two years to approve legislation that would lessen restrictions on stem cell research. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (S. 5), which would authorize federal dollars to fund research on frozen embryos at fertility clinics that would otherwise be destroyed, passed in a 247 to 176 vote, still lacking the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. The Senate approved this bill in a 63 to 34 vote this April on a day when two of the bill’s supporters were absent. If the legislation does receive a presidential veto, the Senate, which might only be two votes away from the necessary two-thirds, would hold the first vote on an override.
Women members of Congress were much more likely to support the legislation. Only 14 of the House’s 70 voting women members opposed the measure, meaning that 80 percent of the women supported the bill, which had overall support from 56.8 percent of all members. Two Republican women — Reps. Deborah Pryce (OH) and Heather Wilson (NM) — voted in support of stem cell research after facing difficult races in 2006.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) acted as the primary sponsor of the bill. In reaction to President Bush’s vow to veto legislation to expand stem cell research, Rep. DeGette told the Washington Post, “For many, stem cell research is the most promising source of potential treatments and cures. Unfortunately, because of the stubbornness of one man, President Bush, these people continue to suffer and wait.”