Saturday, May 21, 2005

Where's the Veto-Proofing Guy?

Yesterday I posted about the dueling stem cell research bills which were introduced in the House of Representatives. Shortly after I posted, I heard the news that the President was not happy. He has promised to veto any bill that might involve funding for research that involved new stem cell lines obtained from 'embryos.'

"I'm a strong supporter of adult stem cell research, of course. But I made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life, is - I'm against that," said Mr. Bush, speaking in the Oval Office during a brief appearance with the Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it."

Keep in mind that this president has not vetoed any bill to date. He hasn't had to because he has had a totally compliant Republican Congress. Apparently some cracks in the wall of that complicity have developed.

Mr. Castle said he warned Mr. Bush about the measure [HB 810] a couple of months ago, when he was invited to the private quarters of the White House with other Republicans for cocktails and a chat on Social Security.

The congressman recalled the conversation this way: "I said: 'Mr. President, I appreciate how strongly you feel about Social Security, but before I answer anything about Social Security, I just want you to know that there are those of us here in Congress who feel very strongly about embryonic stem cell research. I just wanted to let you know that we have a bill, and we're going to be pushing as hard as we can.' "

Senator Specter, who has re-introduced a similar bill in the Senate [S 471], must not be real thrilled, either:

"The United States is being left farther behind every day, this morning by South Korea," Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chief sponsor of a Senate bill identical to the House measure, said Friday.

Mr. Specter, who runs the subcommittee that controls federal financing for medical research, promised to "bring the matter to a head" this year. "I don't like veto threats, and I don't like comments about overriding the veto," he said, "but this issue is going to be the focal point of my subcommittee's appropriations bill."

If you go here, you can look up the two bills I've referenced: S471 and HB 810. You will notice that each bill has sponsors that cut across party lines. You will also notice the long list of sponsors for HB 810.

Even so, in order for either bill to over-ride a promised Presidential veto, it will have to have the support of two-thirds of the members of each body. That's where the Veto-Proofing guy comes in. That, of course, would be you. Call your senator and insist that she/he support S471 when it comes up. Call your representative NOW and insist that she/he support HB 810. The House Bill is scheduled to be voted on this week.


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