More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Senate Sidesteps Cloning, Stem Cell Debates

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) Nov 02 - The Senate on Thursday failed to complete work on the fiscal 2002 spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services and deferred debates concerning two of the more contentious issues associated with the measure embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.

The Bush administration in its formal position statement on the bill had threatened to veto the entire measure unless stem call language allowing the president the right to expand the scope of allowable research was removed. The language was included by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., one of the bill's lead sponsors.

Separately, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., filed several amendments that would have banned all forms of human cloning, as well as the creation of human embryos for research.

In the end, Brownback agreed not to offer his amendments if Specter agreed to drop the stem-cell language. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle then promised both senators they would have a chance to debate their proposals on the Senate floor next February or March, after Congress returns from its winter break.

"What we have decided to do is to defer these matters to another day," said Specter. Brownback agreed that a separate debate "is a more appropriate way to go."

Senate Majority Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev., who helped broker the deal, said it would be better to wait not just to prevent delay of a must-pass spending bill, but because the issues involved are so complex. "I think with the passage of a few months, that we'll be in much, much better shape to listen intelligently and perhaps a number of us will be able to join the debate," he said. "If we had these votes today, a lot of us would be in really uncharted territory."

Final action on the bill was delayed by a dispute over a labor-related amendment offered by Daschle and opposed by Republicans. Democrats said they planned to file "cloture" on the amendment, which will delay the debate until at least early next week.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd