Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) on Wednesday removed a provision from the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (S 1710) that would have expanded funding for human embryonic stem cell research in hope that President Bush would drop his veto threat, CQ Today reports. The provision would have allowed researchers to use federal funds for work with any embryonic stem cell line created before June 15, 2007 (Wayne, CQ Today, 10/17).

The White House earlier on Wednesday said Bush would veto the measure because of the embryonic stem cell provision and because it contains "irresponsible and excessive" spending (Taylor, AP/Google, 10/17). Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research currently is allowed only for research using embryonic stem cell lines created on or before Aug. 9, 2001, under a policy announced by Bush on that date. Bush has twice vetoed bills that would have allowed federal funding for research using new embryonic stem cell lines (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 10/17).

The provision to expand funding for embryonic stem cell research was removed "in the spirit of compromise" and because "we wanted to show that we are willing to compromise," Harkin said, adding, "We're willing to try to meet the president halfway." According to CQ Today, the removal of the provision is unlikely to assuage Bush's objections to the bill (CQ Today, 10/17). The House has approved its version of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043), but the measure did not pass with a veto-proof majority. Bush has threatened to veto the House bill because it contains $11 billion more than he requested. The Senate legislation contains about $9 billion more than Bush requested (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/2).

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