More MS news articles for June 2002

US Senate Cloning Debate Now in Question

Jun 13, 2002
By Julie Rovner
WASHINGTON (Reuters Health)

Negotiations to bring competing bills that would ban human cloning to a vote in the US Senate broke down Wednesday night, and the author of the most sweeping ban vowed to try to append his bill to some other, unrelated measure.

Last year, after the US House of Representatives passed a bill to ban all forms of human cloning, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) promised Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) a debate and vote on a measure close to the House bill "in February or March." Instead, the Senate bogged down over other issues, and the debate was moved to June.

On Tuesday, Daschle and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) announced they were near an agreement to debate both the Brownback bill and a competing measure that would ban cloning intended to produce a live birth, but continue to allow cloning of embryos to derive stem cells for research.

But in a brief exchange on the Senate floor Wednesday night, Brownback rejected the proposal offered by Democratic leaders to debate both bills Friday and Monday and vote Tuesday. Under the proposal, no amendments would have been allowed to either bill, and either bill would have had to receive 60 votes to move back to the House.

"The offer put forward was very unfavorable and would not have been a fair consideration of the issue," Brownback told Reuters Health in an interview off the Senate floor. "It was clearly stacked to give (proponents of the limited ban) the most benefit."

Brownback made a counter-offer that would have allowed several amendments. He said that in addition to banning human cloning, he also wants to bar the patenting of human embryos and processes for creating cloned embryos, as well as certain germ-line manipulations.

But Democratic leaders rejected that proposal. Daschle told reporters the Senate does not have enough legislative days remaining in the session to get into a prolonged debate over biomedical issues. And Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor that he believes the offer fulfills the pledge Daschle made to Brownback last year.

So Brownback said he will now seek to append portions of his bill to other available measures. "We will start filing amendments on bills," he said.

© 2002 Reuters Ltd