Senate Democrats

DEMOCRATS DEMAND STEM CELL ACTION DURING REPUBLICAN “HEALTH” WEEK

Washington, DC — Releasing a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist signed by 40 Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, and Dianne Feinstein today called on the Republican Leader to bring House-passed stem cell legislation currently languishing in the Senate to the Floor for debate.

One year after the House of Representatives passed stem cell legislation (H.R. 810) with broad bipartisan support, and despite the promise such treatment offers to millions and the repeated promises of the Republican Leadership to bring it to the Senate Floor, Senator Frist has so far refused to include this important bill in his planned “health” week next week.

“Americans are looking for hope, and they are looking to their government to open up the promise of stem cell research,” said Senator Reid. “Sadly, instead of helping the American people, Bush Republicans in the Senate will use their ‘health’ week to treat the insurance industry. The American people have waited patiently for a year, but their patience is wearing thin. It is time for the Bush Republican Senate to take action on stem cells.”

“The dreams of millions of patients for a better life have been denied by the Bush Administration’s needless restrictions on stem cell research,” Senator Kennedy said. “We call on the Senate leadership, in the name of the millions of patients who cannot be here to speak for themselves, to schedule a vote on the House-passed bill on stem cell research. We’re here today to say, “The time for delay is over!”

“Stem cell research holds tremendous promise for curing illnesses and saving lives,” said Senator Tom Harkin. “It has been 346 days since the House passed this bill with a strong bipartisan vote. Stem cell research is supported by the majority of Americans and a broad bipartisan majority here in the Senate. But one obstacle stands in the way: the Senate has squandered almost an entire year waiting for Majority Leader Bill Frist to make good on his pledge to bring HR 810 to the floor for a vote. The Hippocratic Oath says, ‘First, do no harm.’ But, while suffering people are desperate for this research, Dr. Frist has refused to act.”

“It’s time for the Senate to pass this bill,” said Senator Feinstein. “It’s time for a sensible embryonic stem cell policy that promotes research. Not one that is limited to 22 lines that are contaminated by mouse feeder cells. There is no question that this country needs an effective stem cell policy–both to provide federal funding for viable stem cell lines and to provide federal ethical guidelines. Passing this bill would go a long way to filling the void created by the President’s existing policy”

Democrats believe stem cell legislation should be a part of any serious health care debate, and the Senators released a letter, signed by 40 Democratic Senators, to Senate Majority Leader Frist urging him to end his obstruction and bring the bipartisan House-passed legislation (H.R. 810) to the Senate. The text of the letter is below.

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May 4, 2006

The Honorable William Frist, M.D.

Majority Leader

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Dr. Frist:

Nearly a year ago, the House of Representatives approved important legislation to end the restrictions that have kept stem cell research from fulfilling its potential to save lives and alleviate suffering. We understand that you are planning a week of Senate debate on legislation related to health. We urge you to bring the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (H.R. 810) to the Senate floor for consideration during this “Health Week”.

Stem cell research has vast potential for curing diseases and saving lives. We know you recognize the enormous potential of this research for discovering new cures and therapies for diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries, and we commend the strong support you have expressed for approval of the House-passed bill. By allowing H.R. 810 to be brought to a vote, you can bring hope and help to millions of American patients and families suffering from these and other serious illnesses.

The House passed H.R. 810 in May 2005 – yet the Senate has failed to take action for nearly a year. Further delay will mean more lost opportunities for new cures and new treatments. The Senate should mark the anniversary of the House vote with action, not more inaction. We therefore urge you to bring H.R. 810 to the Senate floor for debate and a vote during “Health Week”. Millions of patients and their families across the nation cannot afford to wait any longer for enactment of this urgently needed legislation.

Sincerely,

Harry Reid

Tom Harkin

Dianne Feinstein

Ted Kennedy

Daniel Akaka

Max Baucus

Evan Bayh

Joe Biden

Jeff Bingaman

Barbara Boxer

Maria Cantwell

Tom Carper

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Mark Dayton

Christopher Dodd

Byron Dorgan

Dick Durbin

Russell Feingold

Daniel Inouye

Jim Jeffords

Tim Johnson

John Kerry

Herb Kohl

Mary Landrieu

Frank Lautenberg

Patrick Leahy

Carl Levin

Joe Lieberman

Blanche Lincoln

Robert Menendez

Barbara Mikulski

Patty Murray

Bill Nelson

Barack Obama

Jack Reed

Ken Salazar

Paul Sarbanes

Charles Schumer

Debbie Stabenow

Ron Wyden

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