Where’s My Earmarks?

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President Bush once again vetoed a measure to provide funding for stem cell research, a bill that has become Rep. Diana DeGette’s signature issue. Yesterday, DeGette spoke out about the veto:

“President Bush remains stubbornly defiant by once again vetoing potentially life-saving legislation that would give millions of patients and their families hope. Congress gave President Bush another opportunity to do the right thing, but once again he put politics before science.

“The president has become a roadblock to allowing this research to unlock doors to treatments and cures for numerous diseases and conditions – including diabetes, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.

“I can understand why President Bush is hiding from the public to veto this legislation in private – he refuses to meet with us, he refuses to give ground, and he continues to turn his head to the promise of embryonic stem cell research.

“Today’s Executive Order by President Bush is not a substitute for the promise of embryonic stem cell research.

“I support all forms of ethical stem cell research. However, the vast majority of scientists agree that embryonic stem cell research offers the greatest promise for developing treatments and cures for countless diseases and conditions. That is why I and a bipartisan majority of Congress feel strongly that we must allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

But as Anne C. Mulkern of The Denver Post reports, the stem cell issue is likely to come up again:

President Bush on Wednesday vetoed for the second time in as many years legislation lifting limits on embryonic stem-cell research, even as bill supporters vowed to get it back on his desk.

In rejecting the bill from Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Bush played up his commitment to science. He announced a federal effort to find new stem-cell sources similar to powerful embryonic cells. It would not have any new federal funding.

“We’ll encourage scientists to expand the frontiers of stem-cell research,” Bush said. “We want to say, ‘We stand on your side in an ethically responsible way.”‘
Critics accused Bush of favoring politics over science…

…In the meantime Wednesday, two key senators planned to force Bush to confront the issue a third time.
Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., will add language expanding embryonic stem-cell research to a $152 billion bill funding health care, education and labor programs.

“Families across America are waiting for some sign of hope,” Harkin said. “If the president isn’t going to give it to them, we will.”

DeGette’s bill would have revoked Bush’s restriction limiting federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research to lines created on or before Aug. 9, 2001. It would have allowed work on embryonic cells created for in vitro fertilization, slated to be thrown out, and donated for research.

“The president has become a roadblock to allowing this research to unlock doors to treatments and cures for numerous diseases and conditions,” DeGette said after the veto.

Harkin and Specter will attempt to reset the clock on research. They’ll add to the spending bill language that moves the cutoff date for embryonic stem-cell lines to June 15, 2007.

That would give researchers more than 400 stem-cell lines eligible for federally funded work, Harkin spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin said. Additionally, those newer lines are of far higher quality than the older lines.

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A measure to halt funding for Pinon Canyon expansion hasn’t yet drawn a decision from Colorado’s Senators. As Erin Emery of The Denver Post explains:

Neither U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard nor U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar will immediately commit their support to legislation that would halt funding for the expansion of the Pi

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Jason Bane

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