Salazar Supports Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research

Passing legislation for federal funding of stem cell research “is the right thing to do” even in the face of a near-certain presidential veto, according to U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar (D.-Colo.).

The Senate today took up S.5 with 40 cosponsors — mostly Democrats and a sprinkling of Republicans — along with a competing Republican bill, S.30 which has six cosponsors.In a conference call press briefing from Washington, Salazar said:

“Over one million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease, four-and-a-half million Americans and one-in-eight over the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s, 17 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and 64 million Americans suffer from one or more forms of heart disease.

“Stem cell research, from all that the scientific community tells us, holds great promise as the gateway to breakthroughs against these and other debilitating diseases.”

Salazar also said he hoped that President Bush would reconsider his promise to veto the legislation. “He may be posturing for changes he wants in the bill,” Salazar said. “The moratorium we have on funding for stem cell at the federal level in my view is wrong. The right pro-life approach, if we are about pro-life for people, is to support stem cell research.”

Every health care organization of importance has come out in favor stem cell research, Salazar said.

Salazar also said that he plans to support legislation that will invest the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the right to negotiate with respect to drug prices.

In answer to questions after his prepared statement, Salazar said that President Bush’s invitation to discuss the current impasse over Iraq funding was appropriate, but that the conditions the president was attaching to the meeting — a “clean bill” — did not bode well for a successful venture.

Salazar said:

“I am concerned that the president has decided that as a parameter of what he’s talking about here in terms of dialogue, he’s said what he wants is a ‘clean bill.’ The reality of it is we need to find a path forward together in this problem that we have in Iraq …

“This war in Iraq is one which everyone, including most Republicans will admit, has time and again been mishandled by this administration. But it is not at the end of the day only a George W. Bush problem. The problem that we face today in Iraq, in the Middle East, and in Afghanistan, are now American problems. And in order for us to get some real solution with respect to creating stability in Iraq and in that region, and not losing ground in Afghanistan, it’s going to take working together …

The administration has to take its hand off its ears and needs to start listening to people with expertise on Iraq.”

The recent decision to extend tours of duty in Iraq to 15 months indicates that we have stretched our army to the breaking point, Salazar said.