WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following remarks today on the House floor in favor of overriding President Bush’s first veto, which he issued today regarding H.R. 810, legislation that was passed in both the House and the Senate to expand research of embryonic stem cells:
“Mr. Speaker, the choice before the Members of this House today on H.R. 810 – the Castle-DeGette ‘Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act’ – is, in fact, very straight-forward. Will the Members of the Republican Majority choose to stand with George W. Bush – who just minutes ago vetoed this legislation, the very first veto of his presidency – and as a result impede medical research into diseases that afflict millions of Americans?
“Or, will the Members of this Republican Majority choose to stand with more than 70 percent of the American people, the most respected members of America’s medical research community, and 238 Members of this House and 63 United States Senators (including Majority Leader Bill Frist) – all of whom support embryonic stem cell research?
“There is little question, Mr. Speaker, about the utility of such research. Scientists, including 80 Nobel Laureates, believe that embryonic stem cell research could lead to treatments and cures for diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer and other diseases.
“Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, Director of the National Institutes of Health, has stated: ‘Embryonic stem cell research holds great promise for treating, curing, and improving our understanding of disease.’ The American Medical Association and 92 other organizations stated last week in a letter that ‘only H.R. 810 will move stem cell research forward.’ And, Senate Majority Leader Frist, a heart surgeon, has stated that ‘embryonic stem cells uniquely hold specific promise . . . that adult stem cells cannot provide.’
“Nor is there doubt about the need for more stem cell lines, since the lines designated by President Bush in 2001 have proven much less useful than hoped. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has stated: ‘NIAID believes that embryonic stem cell research could be advanced by the availability of additional cell lines. . . . [W]e may be limiting our ability to achieve the full range of potential therapeutic applications of embryonic stem cells by restricting research to a relatively small number of lines currently available.’
“Mr. Speaker, the Castle-DeGette bill, quite simply, would authorize federal funds for research on embryonic stem cell lines derived from surplus embryos at in vitro fertilization clinics that would otherwise be discarded. Equally important, the bill would allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research only if strict ethical guidelines are followed.
“Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most important votes that Members will cast in this Congress – and it will long be remembered. I implore my colleagues: Vote to advance ethical embryonic stem cell research, not to impede it. Vote to override the President’s misguided veto, which will be looked upon years from now as a momentary victory for ideology over medical research.”