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Cooper Critical of Bush Stem Cell Veto

Location: Washington, DC


U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper today criticized President Bush for his veto of legislation that would enhance stem cell research and offer hope to millions of American families.

"Why, Mr. President, are you vetoing hope for Parkinson's victims, vetoing hope for cancer victims, for diabetes victims, for Alzheimer's victims," Cooper asked in remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives. "Why, Mr. President, are you alone standing in the way of hope and progress for our people?

"This is a sad day for America because the President has never vetoed any other bill," Cooper said. "He is the first President since Thomas Jefferson to endorse all of our legislation as if it were perfect, except for this one bill — the bill that gives hope to virtually all American families."

The President's veto came one day after the Senate passed legislation that would expand federal support for embryonic stem cell research. The House of Representatives passed the same legislation last year.

Cooper, a recognized leader in health care reform, has been a supporter of expanded stem cell research for some time. He served on the team of lawmakers who helped rally support for stem cell legislation that passed the House in 2005. He believes that safeguards on research are essential and supports limits such as those recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. Cooper has voted in support of legislation that makes it illegal to perform research on human embryos created only for research purposes.

Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., PhD and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at Vanderbilt Medical Center, also said that medical researchers are at a critical point in stem cell research. "Vanderbilt and other leading academic medical centers are on the threshold of phenomenal progress in stem cell research, but we are being slowed by these federal restrictions. The potential benefit to patients for this research is staggering."

Vanderbilt's efforts in stem cell research are largely focused on diabetes. Vanderbilt is the coordinating center for the NIH (National Institutes of Health) beta cell consortium, a leading international effort in stem cell research.

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