- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005


The Senate wouldn’t vote until next year on a House-passed bill to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research under a deal being suggested quietly by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.

Supporters of the stem-cell bill want a vote this year, as Mr. Frist, a supporter of the bill, has promised. But they acknowledge there may not be time because the calendar is packed with disaster relief, budget talks and Harriet Miers’ Supreme Court nomination.

“The problem is, when do you get the floor time?” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican and the stem-cell bill’s sponsor.

Mr. Specter had threatened to attach the stem-cell measure to a must-pass spending bill for federal education, labor, health and welfare programs if Mr. Frist didn’t schedule a separate vote on it.

In the deal Mr. Frist is floating, Mr. Specter would drop his threat in exchange for a vote on a “date certain” in 2006, said a Senate Republican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing.

“I could live with that,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and a longtime proponent of federal funding for stem-cell research who has grown impatient with the delay. “But it’s important to have a date certain.”

President Bush has promised to veto the bill. He says taxpayers should not be forced to sponsor research that destroys human embryos.

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