Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the floor of the U.S. Senate ahead of the President’s veto of S.5, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act:
“Last year, the Republican-controlled House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to open up the hope of stem cell research to the millions of Americans who suffer. That was a proud day. It was a day Democrats and Republicans put politics and partisanship aside to do the right thing for the American people. Yet when we sent that historic bill to President Bush’s desk, he vetoed it. With the health and hope of millions of Americans hanging in the balance, he vetoed that bill. And it was the first veto of his Administration.
“Now a year has passed, and our best scientists continue to work with one hand tied behind their back. A year has passed, and countless thousands more Americans have been diagnosed with cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, heart disease and ALS. A year has passed, but today President Bush plans to veto the stem cell bill for the second year in a row.
“Yesterday I visited with four young women: 14-year-old Megan Christensen from Las Vegas; 13-year-old Anna Ressell from Sparks; 14-year-old Jordan Exber from Las Vegas; And 12-year old April Welsh from Australia. They suffer from diabetes and are in Washington to try to help get this bill passed. Megan, Anna, Jordan and April deserve hope.
“When we sent the bill to the President two weeks ago, Speaker Pelosi and I were joined by 10-year-old Toni Bethea, who also suffers from diabetes, and 7-year-old Allison Howard, who suffers from Rett Syndrome. Toni and Allison deserve hope too. But President Bush has indicated that he won’t give them and millions and millions others the hope they deserve.
“President Bush won’t listen to the more than 500 leading organizations who support the bill – including AARP, the American Medical Association and the American Diabetes Association, just to name a few. President Bush won’t listen to the 80 Nobel Laureates or his own Director of the National Institutes of Health, who all support embryonic stem cell research. Most importantly, President Bush won’t listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans who call out for stem cell research.
“He insists upon putting the politics of his narrow ideology ahead of saving lives. America deserves better. We are a nation of endless compassion and unlimited ingenuity. And Megan, Anna, Jordan, Toni, Allison deserve to know this: President Bush’s veto is a setback in our fight, but nothing will stop the will of the American people to give you the hope that you deserve. And you can count on this Congress to never give up on you or the millions others just like you who continue to wait for action.”