Stem Cell Research
I strongly support the expansion of federal funding into all forms of stem cell research - including ethically-guided, scientifically based research on both embryonic and adult stem cells. This area of scientific innovation holds enormous promise for solving some of today’s most difficult medical puzzles and could lead to potential treatments and cures of the 21st Century.
Over the last few Congresses, I joined a group of my colleagues in securing passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, a bill aimed at removing the barriers to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. This bill passed Congress twice with bipartisan support; however, both bills were vetoed by President George W. Bush in 2006 and 2007. I voted to override the President’s veto but was disappointed that the House did not garner the 2/3 majority vote necessary to reverse it.
On March 9, 2009, I was proud to attend the signing of President Obama’s Executive Order lifting the August 2001 ban on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. This executive order recognized the importance of funding responsible research involving both embryonic and adult stem cells and directed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to issue guidelines to establish appropriate safeguards for this research. The final NIH guidelines were released on July 6, 2009, and provide a strong ethical framework that will pave the way for future scientific discovery, while creating an avenue to build on the foundation of knowledge and continue research on previously existing stem cell lines.
Although federal funding of embryonic stem cell research was briefly enjoined, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected that argument and allowed federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research to continue under the 2009 guidelines. As of January 2014, a total of 243 stem cell lines are listed in the NIH registry.