Kohl Presses Majority Leader Frist to Allow Stem Cell Research Vote
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) today joined forty of his colleagues in urging Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to bring the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810) to the floor for a vote during "Health Week" planned in May.
"Important research is being done every day on stem cells," Kohl said. "I'm proud that some of this research is being done at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, which was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells. Without expanded Federal support, we risk slowing down the tremendous progress that could be made to alleviate human suffering."
The House passed this important stem cell bill last year by a wide margin. Although the Senate version of this legislation (S.471) has bipartisan support, Frist has refused to schedule a vote on this popular bill.
In the letter to Frist, the Senators wrote: "Further delay will mean more lost opportunities for new cures and new treatments Millions of patients and their families across the nation cannot afford to wait any longer for enactment of this urgently needed legislation." H.R. 810 expands the number of stem cell lines that are eligible for federally funded research, accelerating scientific progress toward cures and treatments for a wide range of diseases and debilitating health conditions. Under the President's policy on human embryonic stem cell research, only those stem cell lines derived before August 9, 2001, are eligible for federally funded research. This bill lifts that restriction.
Full text of the letter follows: May 4, 2006 The Honorable William Frist, M.D. Majority Leader United States Senate Washington, DC 20510 Dear Dr. Frist: Nearly a year ago, the House of Representatives approved important legislation to end the restrictions that have kept stem cell research from fulfilling its potential to save lives and alleviate suffering. We understand that you are planning a week of Senate debate on legislation related to health. We urge you to bring the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (H.R. 810) to the Senate floor for consideration during this "Health Week".
Stem cell research has vast potential for curing diseases and saving lives. We know you recognize the enormous potential of this research for discovering new cures and therapies for diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries, and we commend the strong support you have expressed for approval of the House-passed bill. By allowing H.R. 810 to be brought to a vote, you can bring hope and help to millions of American patients and families suffering from these and other serious illnesses.
The House passed H.R. 810 in May 2005 -- yet the Senate has failed to take action for nearly a year. Further delay will mean more lost opportunities for new cures and new treatments. The Senate should mark the anniversary of the House vote with action, not more inaction. We therefore urge you to bring H.R. 810 to the Senate floor for debate and a vote during "Health Week". Millions of patients and their families across the nation cannot afford to wait any longer for enactment of this urgently needed legislation. Sincerely, Herb Kohl (cosigned by 40 Democratic Senators)