STEM CELL RESEARCH ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2007
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of H.R. 3, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which holds tremendous hope for the 100 million Americans affected by devastating diseases and medical conditions.
In 2001, President George W. Bush announced his final decision on the use of Federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. According to the National Institutes of Health, of the 78 stem cell lines that were declared eligible for Federal funding in the President's executive order of August 2001, only 21 lines are now still available for researchers. The 21 stem cell lines that remain available today are contaminated with ``mouse feeder' cells, making their therapeutic use for humans uncertain.
I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which increases the number of embryonic stem cell lines eligible to be used for Federally-funded research. The bill also authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to support research involving embryonic stem cells meeting certain criteria, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from an embryo. This legislation authorizes the use of stem cell lines generated from embryos that would otherwise be discarded by fertility clinics and it has strict ethical guidelines. These guidelines include stipulating that embryos can be used only if the donors give their written consent and receive no money or other inducement in exchange for the embryos.
In the 109th Congress, this bill passed the House by a vote of 238-194 and in the Senate by a vote of 63-37. Unfortunately, the President used his first veto to stop lifesaving stem cell research and set back the hopes of so many who are suffering. Today, we owe it to the millions of Americans with chronic diseases like Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and ALS to invest in this promising research and renew the hopes of millions.
Expanding stem cell research has the support of more than 70 percent of Americans. This vote today has the potential to unlock the doors to treatments and cures to numerous debilitating and life-threatening diseases and will send a clear signal that this Congress is committed to improving the lives of millions of patients affected by these diseases. Passage of H.R. 3 is critical and I hope the President listens to the American people by signing this bill that will allow this groundbreaking research to move forward.
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