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House Expected To Vote on Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Bills

May 06, 2017

The House on Tuesday is expected to vote on a bill HR 810 that would loosen restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research and a bill... (HR 596) that would provide $79 million in federal funding to collect umbilical cord blood for stem cell research, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Kellman, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/23). The current embryonic stem cell research policy allows federal funding for the research only when the cells are extracted from stem cell lines created on or before Aug. 9, 2001, the date that President Bush announced the policy. However, critics of Bush's policy have said that the available stem cell lines are not biologically diverse, are contaminated with nonhuman material and are useless for research into possible cures for degenerative diseases. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which is sponsored by Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.) and has nearly 200 co-sponsors, would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and allow research using stem cells derived from embryos originally created for fertility treatments and willingly donated by patients. The bill would not allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research on stem cell lines or embryos created expressly for research purposes (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 5/23).

Umbilical Cord Blood Bill
The Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2005 -- sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who opposes embryonic stem cell research -- would establish and authorize funding for an umbilical cord blood bank network for the purpose of stem cell research and treatment of diseases. Umbilical cord blood contains hematopoeitic progenitor cells -- the same kind of stem cells found in adult bone marrow -- that could be used to treat patients with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and several other diseases. However, the majority of parents of the approximately four million infants born each year in the United States choose not to store umbilical cord blood to harvest stem cells, and the blood is discarded. According to an Institute of Medicine report released in April, stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood could provide treatment for about 11,700 people annually in the United States, but about 100,000 more public donations of such blood must be made over the next few years to build an adequate national supply (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 4/15).

Outlook for Bills
Bush, who has never vetoed a bill as president, said he would not hesitate to use the first veto of his presidency to prevent HR 810 from becoming law, which he said would violate his principle that research that "destroys life in order to save life" should not receive federal funding (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 5/23). Although Castle said the bill likely has enough votes to pass in the House, it probably does not have enough support to override a presidential veto, the Washington Times reports. However, he said that if the bill is approved by both the House and Senate, "maybe we can sit down with the White House and negotiate" a new embryonic stem cell policy (Fagan, Washington Times, 5/24). However, the White House and supporters of the current embryonic stem cell research policy on Tuesday planned to "rais[e] the stakes" by having children born as a result of "adopted embryos" make a Rose Garden appearance, the Boston Globe reports (Easton, Boston Globe, 5/24). House Republican leaders who oppose HR 810 plan to present HR 596 first on Tuesday as an "alternative" to the embryonic stem cell research measure, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. But Rep. Arthur Davis (D-Ala.), a co-sponsor of HR 596, said the two bills are "compatible" and that there will be a "number of members who will vote for both of these bills," according to the AP/Yahoo! News (Kellman, AP/Yahoo! News, 5/23).

Broadcast Coverage
Several broadcast programs reported on the upcoming vote:
KCRW's "To The Point": The program on Tuesday is scheduled to include a discussion of the legislation, the medical ethics and potential of stem cell research and whether the United States could be a leader in the research (Nyad, "To The Point," KCRW, 5/24). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.

NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment includes comments from Bush, Castle, Smith, Davis and Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Charles Bass (R-N.H.) (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 5/24). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.

NPR's "Talk of the Nation": The program on Tuesday is scheduled to discuss the upcoming House vote (Conan, "Talk of the Nation," NPR, 5/24). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.

PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer": The segment includes comments from DeGette and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) (Brown, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 5/23). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.

"Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork/dailyreports/repro The Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.