Jun 18, 2002
By Julie Rovner
WASHINGTON (Reuters Health)
The US Senate used a procedural maneuver on Tuesday to avoid a vote on whether to bar the US Patent and Trademark Office from granting patents to human clones or processes for cloning human embryos.
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who last week rejected the terms offered by Democrats for a full-fledged debate on his bill to ban all forms of human cloning, offered the patent ban as an amendment to an unrelated terrorism insurance bill. "We have a limited number of legislative days. The body needs to speak on this important issue," said Brownback on the Senate floor on Monday. "We need to make it clear to the Patent Office that a human embryo created by a cloning process is a person, not livestock that can be owned, and therefore should not be allowed to be patented," he said.
But the Senate voted 65-31 to cut off debate on the terrorism bill, which automatically forced out Brownback's pending amendment, because it was not closely enough related to the subject of the underlying bill.
Brownback complained that he was being dealt with unfairly by Democratic leaders who schedule floor debate. "The leadership is trying to prevent my amendment coming to a vote," he said.
But leaders said they were doing nothing unfair. Brownback "has a right to do what he is doing, and the majority leader has a right to do what his is doing to terminate debate on this bill," said Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Still, Brownback said he does not plan to give up, and will offer the
patenting amendment, as well as an amendment to place a 2-year moratorium
on all human cloning, on other bills as opportunities arise.
© 2002 Reuters Ltd