Senate Democrats

DEMOCRATS FIGHT FOR STEM CELL RESEARCH

Washington, DC — Democrats believe stem cell research should be a part of any health care debate, but Bush Republicans in the Senate are preparing to wrap up their “health week” having accomplished nothing and having refused to even consider such promising research. Today, Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, and Bob Menendez called on Senate Republicans to bring House-passed stem cell legislation (H.R. 810) to the Senate for debate and not squander this opportunity to help millions of people.

“Many people will say that the Republican “Health Week” is ending today – but that’s not really true. The reality is that “Health Week” was over before it started. The fix was in from the word “go.” Instead of a full debate on Senator Enzi’s bill–a proposal that would undermine health insurance for millions of Americans–the Republican leadership pulled a parliamentary stunt to deny debate and delay action on the real health priorities of the American people,” Senator Kennedy said. “There is no priority more urgent, no delay more intolerable, no failure more inexcusable than the refusal of the Republican leadership to take up the good stem cell bill approved by the House.”

“The need to expand stem cell research in this country is as critical as ever,” said Senator Harkin. “For millions of Americans, stem cell research remains a life-or-death issue. Yet nearly a year after the House passed a bill to do just that with a strong, bipartisan majority, we are still denied a vote in the Senate. At the close of the Republicans so-called ‘health week’, we are still denied a vote. A bipartisan majority in the Senate support expanding stem cell research; Senator Frist himself said he backs it. And yet we are still denied a vote.”

“It’s time for the Senate to pass this bill,” Senator Feinstein said. “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. It’s time to unleash our researchers and encourage them to find cures. This fight is really about cures and treatments for patients. The price of inaction goes up every day.”

Senator Chuck Schumer said, “We want all the best minds in the country to be working together to find cures for Diabetes, Cancer, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and dozens of debilitating diseases. But this Republican Congress won’t even allow some debate during their health week even as the lives of millions of Americans are at stake. Researchers who are working on research that does not even involve stem cells are being hindered because of the overly-restrictive rules about stem cell research. Not being allowed to use federal funding for the stem cell lines available has broader implications for all researchers, not just those working on stem cells.”

“Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t boast a party affiliation and neither does cancer or diabetes or Parkinson’s disease,” said Senator Menendez. “But potential cures to these debilitating and fatal diseases are being ensnared in political posturing and obstruction.”

It has been almost a year since the House of Representatives passed stem cell legislation (H.R. 810), and though Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has repeatedly promised to bring it to the Senate for debate, he has refused to include it in the now-concluding Republican “health week.” Democrats believe America can do better, and that the millions of Americans suffering from potentially treatable diseases deserve better.

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