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Bush's first veto will be the most cruel

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  • Ram Lau
    Bush s first veto will be the most cruel Posted by Bob Geiger at 6:16 AM on July 18, 2006. http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/geiger/39129/ How devoted is George
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2006
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      Bush's first veto will be the most cruel
      Posted by Bob Geiger at 6:16 AM on July 18, 2006.
      http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/geiger/39129/

      How devoted is George W. Bush to his patrons in the Religious Right?

      No U.S. president since Thomas Jefferson, who left office in 1809, has
      gone this far into a presidency without exercising veto power. But
      Bush is about to use it on stem cell legislation that is bipartisan to
      the almost ludicrous point of the president being out of step with
      conservative, anti-choice stalwarts like Senate Majority Leader Bill
      Frist (R-TN), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Trent Lott (R-MS), who all
      support the bill.

      The Senate began debate yesterday on H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research
      Enhancement Act, which will expand federal funding for embryonic stem
      cell research and open the door to enhanced treatment or cures for a
      wide array of maladies including cancer, spinal cord injuries,
      Parkinson's disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

      The legislation would mitigate the limits on federal funding of stem
      cell research that Bush imposed in 2001.

      But a policy statement issued by the White House said that passage of
      the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act would compel "all American
      taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional
      destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells. Should
      the legislation be presented to the president, he would veto the bill."

      White House Press Secretary Tony Snow confirmed that on Monday saying
      "the administration has released a statement of administration policy
      expressing a veto threat about H.R. 810, the stem cell bill, that has
      been cleared and publishedÂ… We've got a formal veto threat out for it
      in the form of a statement of administration policy."

      "It's tragic. For six years, President Bush has refused to veto a
      single bill. But now he's threatening to issue his first -- ever -- on
      stem cell research," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in
      a speech Monday to the 97th annual NAACP convention. "He didn't veto
      Republican budgets that cut from the neediest among us and plunged our
      country hundreds of billions of dollars into debt. He didn't veto tax
      breaks for Enron and Exxon, while hardworking families paid more for
      gas just to get to work or pick up their kids from school. But now,
      he's going to veto a bill that offers hope to millions of Americans
      suffering from cancer, or chronic and other debilitating conditions,
      such as diabetes, Lou Gehrig's, or sickle cell anemia."

      A vote on H.R. 810 could happen as early as today and it is expected
      to pass with broad bipartisan support. It's possible it will hit
      Bush's desk for the expected veto as early as Wednesday and it is
      highly likely that Congress will fail to override it. While it's very
      possible that the 67 votes needed to override Bush's veto could be
      mustered in the Senate, the House is unlikely to rebuke Bush. The bill
      passed the House in 2005 by a vote of 238-194 and 290 votes would be
      needed to override Bush's veto.

      What is astounding is that in a 109th Congress marked by a bitter
      partisan divide, Bush will be vetoing a bill that has brought even the
      most ideologically-split foes together.

      "Science has progressed over the last five years," said Frist in
      support of H.R. 810 on Monday. "Fewer than the anticipated number of
      cell lines have proved suitable for research, and I feel that the
      limit on cell lines available for federally funded research is too
      restrictive."

      Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) made an unusually personal speech in the
      Senate chamber on Monday when he broached the subject of his own
      battle with Hodgkin's disease and mentioned a 1970 call by President
      Richard Nixon to strengthen and expand cancer research.

      "Without unduly dwelling on my own situation with Hodgkin's -- a year
      of chemotherapy -- I think had that research been fulfilled, I would
      have been spared that malady," said Specter, who also commented on the
      untold number of people who have died of diseases "which could be
      cured with stem cell research."

      Ted Kennedy (D-MA) even invoked the Bible in his plea to Bush to
      support the life-saving research when it reaches his desk.

      "Hope is what stem cell research brings to millions of Americans who
      seek better treatments and better drugs for cancer, diabetes, spinal
      injury, and many other serious conditions," said Kennedy. "Hope cannot
      be extinguished or destroyed, but it can be delayed. In the Bible, the
      Book of Proverbs tells us, 'Hope deferred makes the heart sick.' And
      today hearts are sick almost to the breaking point, because for the
      past five the Bush Administration has shut down the stem cell research
      program begun at National Institute of Health, and imposed arbitrary
      restrictions on this life-saving research."

      All of this will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears when dealing with a man
      like Bush, who presided over so many executions while Governor of
      Texas and yet takes a firm stance on life when it deals with clumps of
      cells invisible to the naked eye and used less than a week after
      fertilization.

      And there is no shortage of viable cells, with more than 400,000 ready
      for research at fertility clinics across the country.

      Which makes one of the other three bills to be considered this week,
      Rick Santorum's (R-PA) Fetus Farming Prohibition Act -- which he
      authored along with his Opus Dei buddy, Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- even
      more bizarre. The bill would make it a crime to use stem cells (or any
      other tissue) if the material comes from a pregnancy initiated and
      terminated specifically to produce tissue.

      Brownback quoted Christian writer C.S. Lewis in arguing that the
      procedure is an affront to human dignity: "If man chooses to treat
      himself as raw material, raw material he will be."

      Of course, with 400,000 frozen embryos waiting in the wings, this
      isn't a realistic issue to even be addressing and, like Bush's
      promised veto, it is only being proposed to appease their far-right
      constituency.

      That bill and Specter's Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies
      Enhancement Act -- which simply encourages scientists to search for
      ways to derive all-purpose stem cells from sources other than embryos
      -- are also expected to pass the Senate if for no other reason than
      that they are not very controversial. In addition, not one of the 55
      Senate Republicans would dare vote against them.

      But the stem-cell news this week will be ruled by Bush and, given that
      he has been promising this veto for five years, there's very little
      chance that his pen won't be used to squash the hopes of many people
      who have waited for this moment.

      "There are so many people who will be watching, who will be hoping,
      who will be praying that he signs this legislation," said Dianne
      Feinstein (D-CA).

      Said Ted Kennedy in his arguments on the Senate floor Monday: "We must
      cast a vote of conscience and of courage. We must reaffirm that our
      common value of bringing hope to those who need it outweighs any
      single ideology, we must approve the Stem Cell Research Enhancement
      Act, and we must call upon the President of the United States not to
      veto hope."
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