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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

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Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - April 21, 2005)

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Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, today Senators Hatch, Kennedy, Specter, Harkin and I are introducing legislation to ban human reproductive cloning, while ensuring that important medical research goes forward under strict oversight by the federal government.

Simply put, this legislation will enable research to be conducted that provides hope to millions of Americans suffering from paralysis and debilitating diseases including Juvenile Diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease.

Every member of this body knows someone--whether it's a parent or grandparent, a child or a friend--who suffers from one of these diseases. That is why this legislation is so critical. We must act now to protect promising research that will bring hope to those who suffer.

I now that every member of this body would agree that human reproductive cloning is immoral and unethical. It should be outlawed by Congress and the President. That is exactly what this bill does.

It prohibits any person from conducting or attempting to clone a human being. It also prohibits shipping materials for the purpose of human cloning in interstate or foreign commerce and prohibits the export of an unfertilized blastocyst to a foreign country if such country does not prohibit human cloning.

Any person that violates this prohibition is subject to harsh criminal and civil penalties. They include: imprisonment of up to 10 years in federal prison.

Fines of up to $1 million or three times the gross profits resulting from the violation, whichever is greater.

This legislation draws a bright line between human reproductive cloning and promising medical research using somatic cell nuclear transplantation for the sole purpose of deriving embryonic stem cells.

Somatic cell nuclear transplantation is the process by which scientists derive embryonic stem cells that are an exact genetic match as the patient. Those embryonic stem cells will one day be used to correct defective cells such as non-insulin producing or cancerous cells. Then those patients will not be forced to take immuno-suppressive drugs and risk the chances of rejection since the new cells will contain their own DNA.

It is truly astonishing that somatic cell nuclear transplantation research may one day be used to regrow tissue or organs that could lead to treatments and cures for diseases that afflict up to 100 million Americans. What we are talking about here is research that does not even involve sperm and an egg.

I believe it is essential that this research be conducted with Federal Government oversight and under strict ethical requirements.

That is why the legislation: Mandates that eggs used in this research be unfertilized.

Prohibits the purchase or sale of unfertilized eggs--to prevent ``embryo farms'' or the possible exploitation of women.

Imposes strong ethics rules on scientists, mandating informed consent by egg donors, and include safety and privacy protections.

Prohibit any research on an unfertilized blastocyst after 14 days--After 14 days, an unfertilized blastocyst begins differentiating into a specific type of cell such as a heart or brain cell and is no longer useful for the purposes of embryonic stem cell research.

Requires that all egg donations be voluntary, and that there is no financial or other incentive for egg donations.

Requires that nuclear transportation occur in labs completely separate from labs that engage in in vitro fertilization.

And for those who violate or attempt to violate the ethical requirements of the legislation, they will be subject to civil penalties of up to $250,000 per violation.

Embryonic stem cell research that is currently being done using private funds, in animal models, and by scientists overseas continues to show great promise and potential. This progress will not be sustained in the U.S. without additional stem cell lines for federally-funded research and without strict federal oversight of this research.

Senator HATCH and I have argued this point for years. What has happened since the President limited federally-funded research to only those embryonic stem cell lines derived prior to August 9, 2001?

Researchers have made a number of advancements confirming the promise of embryonic stem cells using animal models and private research dollars. In the absence of federal policy on embryonic stem cell research and human reproductive cloning, States have taken action creating a patchwork of state laws under varying ethical frameworks. Fewer researchers are choosing to go into this field given the void created by Federal inaction.

Last January, a study published by researchers from the University of California San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies confirmed that all 22 existing federally-approved stem cell lines are tainted by mouse feeders cells and cannot be used in humans.

Researchers at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA, used embryonic stem cells created by somatic cell nuclear transplantation to cure a genetic defect in mice.

Researchers at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York found that embryonic stem cells produce proteins that can help ailing organs repair themselves.

Stanford scientists were able to relieve diabetes symptoms in mice by using special chemicals to transform undifferentiated embryonic stem cells of mice into cell masses that resemble islets found in the mouse pancreas.

In the absence of federal legislation, we have seen a patchwork of State laws under varying ethical frameworks and this is extremely worrisome. In total, 30 States have passed laws pertaining to stem cell research and there is tremendous variety in those laws.

California launched a $3 billion initiative to fund embryonic stem cell research including somatic cell nuclear transplantation research which bans human reproductive cloning.

At least 6 academic centers in California including UC San Francisco, Stanford, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Davis have already begun developing facilities where this embryonic

stem cell research will be conducted and are all actively recruiting stem cell biologists from across the country.

New Jersey has proposed a $380 million initiative to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Wisconsin has proposed investing $750 million to support embryonic stem cell research.

By contrast, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan have specifically prohibited nuclear transfer used to create stem cells. And 22 other States have enacted laws on the matter.

What this means is researchers and research money are now moving to States with pro-research laws and pro-research Governors.

There is clearly a void that needs to be filled--and it can only be filled by the Federal Government.

To be clear, this is research that involves an unfertilized blastocyst. No sperm are involved. It is conducted in a petri dish and cannot occur beyond 14 days. It is also prohibited from ever being implanted into a woman to create a child.

For those who believe that the clump of cells in a petri dish that we are talking about is a human life, that is a moral decision each person must make for himself, but to impose that view on the more than 100 million of our parents, children and friends who suffer from Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer is immoral.

As former Senator and Episcopal minister John C. Danforth said recently in an op-ed in the New York Times, ``Criminalizing the work of scientists doing such research would give strong support to one religious doctrine, and it would punish people who believe it is their religious duty to use science to heal the sick.

This is exactly why the legislation I am introducing with my colleagues Senators HATCH, KENNEDY, SPECTER and HARKIN is needed. I urge the Senate to take up and pass this bill and help turn the hopes of millions of Americans into reality.

I ask unanimous consent that the attached letter be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

COALITION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT

OF MEDICAL RESEARCH,

Washington, DC, April 21, 2005.
Senator Dianne Feinstein,
U.S. Senate, 331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR FEINSTEIN, On behalf of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), I am writing to add our strong support for the introduction of the Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act of 2005. Along with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), your leadership in protecting research using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), also known as therapeutic cloning, is greatly appreciated.

This year, Congress will address the future of biomedical research and the Nation's efforts to prevent, treat, and cure such debilitating diseases as cancer, juvenile diabetes, ALS, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and many more. Let me be clear, CAMR supports a ban on reproductive cloning; it is unsafe and unethical. Given the scientific potential of SCNT and regenerative medicine, however, we strongly support the bill's effort to allow for this research, which may provide essential tools allowing scientists to develop the promise of embryonic stern cell research. I am sure you will agree, therapeutic cloning is about saving and improving lives. It is fW1damemally different from human reproductive cloning; it produces stem cells, not babies.

CAMR applauds your leadership in sponsoring legislation that ensures cures for devastating diseases continue to be developed. We look forward to working with you.

Thank you,

Daniel Perry,
President.

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By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. CORZINE, Mr. LEAHY, Mr. JEFFORDS, Mr. SCHUMER, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. DURBIN, and Ms. CANTWELL):

S. 889. A bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to require phased increases in the fuel efficiency standards applicable to light trucks, to require fuel economy standards for automobiles up to 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, to increase the fuel economy of the Federal fleet of vehicles, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to offer a bill with my colleagues Senators SNOWE, CORZINE, LEAHY, CANTWELL, COLLINS, DURBIN, SCHUMER and JEFFORDS to close the SUV loophole.

This bill would increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for SUVs and other light duty trucks. It would close the ``SUV Loophole'' and require that SUVs meet the same fuel efficiency standards as passenger cars by 2011.

Crude oil prices remain above $50/barrel. On April 1, 2005, crude oil prices hit a record high of $57.70/barrel. Prices at the gas pump continue to soar as well. Today, the average price for regular gasoline was $2.24 per gallon. In California, the average price is almost $2.60.

This is not a problem we can drill our way out of. Global oil demand is rising. China imports more than 40 percent of its record 6.4 million-barrel-per-day oil demand and its consumption is growing by 7.5 percent per year, seven times faster than the U.S.

India imports approximately 70 percent of its oil, which is projected to rise to more than 90 percent by 2020. Their rapidly growing economies are fueling their growing dependence on oil--which makes continued higher prices inevitable.

The most effective step we can take to reduce gas prices is to reduce demand. We must use our finite fuel supplies more wisely.

This legislation is an important first step to limit our nation's dependence on oil and better protect our environment.

If implemented, closing the SUV Loophole would: save the U.S. 1 million barrels of oil a day and reduce our dependence on oil imports by 10 percent.

Prevent about 240 million tons of carbon dioxide--the top greenhouse gas and biggest single cause of global warming from entering the atmosphere each year.

Save SUV and light duty truck owners hundreds of dollars each year in gasoline costs.

CAFE Standards were first established in 1975. At that time, light trucks made up only a small percentage of the vehicles on the road, they were used mostly for agriculture and commerce, not as passenger cars.

Today, our roads look much different, SUVs and light duty trucks comprise more than half of the new car sales in the United States. As a result, the overall fuel economy of our Nation's fleet is the lowest it has been in two decades, because fuel economy standards for these vehicles are so much lower than they are for other passenger vehicles.

The bill we are introducing today would change that. SUVs and other light duty trucks would have to meet the same fuel economy requirements by 2011 that passenger cars meet today.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, has proposed phasing in an increase in fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks under the following schedule: by 2005, SUVs and light trucks would have to average 21.0 miles per gallon; by 2006, SUVs and light trucks would have to average 21.6 miles per gallon; and by 2007, SUVs and light trucks would have to average 22.2 miles per gallon.

In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences, NAS, released a report stating that adequate lead time can bring about substantive increases in fuel economy standards. Automakers can meet higher CAFE standards if existing technologies are utilized and included in new models of SUVs and light trucks.

In 2003, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said he favored an increase in vehicle fuel economy standards beyond the 1.5-mile-per-gallon hike slated to go into effect by 2007. ``We can do better,'' said Jeffrey Runge in an interview with Congressional Green Sheets. ``The overriding goal here is better fuel economy to decrease our reliance on foreign oil without compromising safety or American jobs,'' he said.

With this in mind, we have developed the following phase-in schedule which would follow up on what NHTSA has proposed for the short term and remain consistent with what the NAS report said is technologically feasible over the next decade or so: by model year 2008, SUVs and light duty vehicles would have to average 23.5 miles per gallon; by model year 2009, SUVs and light duty vehicles would have to average 24.8 miles per gallon; by model year 2010, SUVs and light duty vehicles would have to average 26.1 miles per gallon, by model year 2011, SUVs and light duty vehicles would have to average 27.5 miles per gallon.

This legislation would do two other things: it would mandate that by 2008 the average fuel economy of the new vehicles comprising the Federal fleet must be 3 miles per gallon higher than the baseline average fuel economy for that class. And by 2011, the average fuel economy of the new federal vehicles must be 6 miles per gallon higher than the baseline average fuel economy for that class.

The bill also increases the weight limit within which vehicles are bound by CAFE standards to make it harder for automotive manufacturers to build SUVs large enough to become exempted from CAFE standards. Because SUVs are becoming larger and larger, some may become so large that they will no longer qualify as even SUVs anymore.

We are introducing this legislation because we believe that the United States needs to take a leadership role in the fight against global warming.

We have already seen the potential destruction that global warming can cause in the United States.

Snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada are shrinking and will almost entirely disappear by the end of the century, devastating the source of California's water.

Eskimos are being forced inland in Alaska as their native homes on the coastline are melting into the sea.

Glaciers are disappearing in Glacier National Park in Montana. In 100 years, the park has gone from having 150 glaciers to fewer than 30. And the 30 that remain are two-thirds smaller than they once were.

Beyond our borders, scientists are predicting how the impact of global warming will be felt around the globe.

It has been estimated that two-thirds of the glaciers in western China will melt by 2050, seriously diminishing the water supply for the region's 300 million inhabitants. Additionally, the disappearance of glaciers in the Andes in Peru is projected to leave the population without an adequate water supply during the summer.

The United States is the largest energy consumer in the world, with 4 percent of the world's population using 25 percent of the planet's energy.

And much of this energy is used in cars and light trucks: 43 percent of the oil we use goes into our vehicles and one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions come from our transportation sector.

The U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world in the development of more fuel efficient automobiles. Quarterly auto sales reflect that consumers are buying smaller more fuel efficient cars and sales of the big, luxury vehicles that are the preferred vehicle of the American automakers have dropped significantly.

Even SUV sales have slowed. First quarter 2005 deliveries of these vehicles are down compared to the same period last year--for example, sales of the Ford Excursion is down by 29.5 percent, the Cadillac Escalade by 19.9 percent, and the Toyota Sequoia by 12.6 percent.

On the other hand, the Toyota Prius hybrid had record sales in March with a 160.9 percent increase over the previous year.

The struggling U.S. auto market cannot afford to fall behind in the development of fuel efficient vehicles. Our bill sets out a reasonable time frame for car manufacturers to design vehicles that are more fuel efficient and that will meet the growing demand for more fuel efficient vehicles.

We can do this, and we can do this today. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

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