Kansas Senator Plans Stem Cell Filibuster

Conservative pundit Bob Novak reports that Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is planning to lead a “mini-filibuster” of Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette’s reintroduction of a bill to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

From the Evans-Novak Political Report posted at the ultra-right website Human Events:

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a master obstructer during two years as Senate minority leader, is about to get a taste of obstruction himself. Passage this year of embryonic stem-cell research legislation that was vetoed by Bush last year is a prime Democratic priority. But Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a leader of the social conservatives, plans a mini-filibuster that will delay passage at least three weeks.

The “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act” was vetoed by President Bush-the first of his presidency-last July though it enjoys overwhelming public support.

Rep. DeGette pulled no punches in expressing her dismay in a sternly worded statement:

“I am extremely disappointed that President Bush has issued his first veto on H.R. 810.  With his veto, the President has destroyed the hope of millions of Americans who are suffering from diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes that could be cured by stem cell research.

“H.R. 810 would have corrected the President’s short-sighted policy by allowing this important research to move forward under ethical constraints.  This research holds so much promise to solving diseases that affect more than 110 million Americans.  Vetoing this bill is one of the greatest mistakes of his Presidency.

“This research has the support of more than 70% of Americans and the President will suffer the political consequences for vetoing H.R. 810.  I promise to keep fighting to expand stem cell research.  This important legislation will become law; it’s only a matter of when.”

Passage again in the House is fairly certain. The Senate is a much different story.

Markos at Daily Kos provides some interesting analysis on the bill’s chances in 2007:

63 Senators voted for the last stem cell research bill. Only one Dem voted against it — Ben Nelson. So of the Democrats who were around in 2006, that leaves us with 41 votes. Sanders replaces Jeffords, so we keep that vote. We’re at 42. We’ll keep our pro-stem cell research votes in Minnesota and Maryland, which gets us to 44.

In addition, 19 Republicans voted for stem cell reseearch — Alexander, Bennet, Burr, Chafee, Cochran, Collins, Frist, Gregg, Hatch, Bailey, Hutchinson, Lott, Lugar, McCain, Murkowski, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, and Warner. Frist wasn’t a real vote — he voted “for” it because it gave him the parliamentary right to revisit the vote.

So of those 18 real votes, only Chafee is gone, and he was replaced with a likely “pro” vote. So that puts us at 62. We need five more.

Of the 37 “no” votes, the following are now gone — Allen, Burns, DeWine, Santorum, and Talent. We would need all five to override a veto, so Novak was right, Casey could be the swing vote. And as Novak notes, Casey opposes expanding stem cell research funding.

But here’s the rub for opponents — the following “no” Republicans face tough reelection fights in tough battleground states, and won’t want to be the next Jim Talent (who lost his reelection bid in large part because of this issue):

Allard in Colorado, Coleman in Minnesota, Dole in North Carolina, and Sununu in New Hampshire.

Will Colorado’s Sen. Wayne Allard succumb to reason over partisanship and vote to support his colleague’s bill?

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