KOHL URGES PASSAGE OF STEM CELL BILL BEFORE HOLIDAY RECESS
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, today made the following statement on the potential of stem cell research and his support for expanding Federal funding of this promising life-saving research. Kohl is the lead Democrat on the Senate's Special Committee on Aging, which recently held a hearing to examine progress in embryonic stem cell research, the need for new stem cell lines and why these additional lines should receive federal support.
"I applaud my colleagues, Senators Harkin and Specter, for their continued leadership and their work on critical legislation which I am proud to co-sponsor," stated Kohl. "I truly hope we will be able to pass the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act before we adjourn for the holidays."
The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, introduced by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) in February, will expand the number of new stem cell lines available to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other affiliated laboratories, like the University of Wisconsin, America's epicenter for groundbreaking stem cell research. The House passed companion legislation in late May, but the Senate has yet to take it up.
Scientists have raised concerns over the quality, longevity and availability of the current human embryonic stem cell lines that are eligible for use in federally funded research. Under the Bush Administration's policy, only 22 cell lines are available for federal research dollars, and an unpublished NIH report indicates that under a best case scenario, a total of 23 embryonic stem cell lines will ever be ready for use in research.
"It would be unconscionable for the Federal government to turn its back on the discoveries that expanding stem cell research promises. Now more than ever, it's important to grasp this opportunity in an ethical manner by making sure that potentially lifesaving research keeps moving forward".