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Embryonic Stem Cell Bill Postponed

October 21, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate won’t vote until early next year on a bill to loosen restrictions on publicly funded embryonic stem cell studies, under a deal struck Friday by the sponsors.

``The majority leader has committed to bringing it up as one of the first items next year,″ Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the stem cell bill’s lead sponsor, announced on the Senate floor. Before their agreement, the sponsors had said they would hold up a must-pass spending measure until lawmakers voted on the research.

The deal releases Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., from his promise to hold a vote this year on the measure, which would loosen President Bush’s 2001 ban on federal funding for research on new stem cell lines.

The bill is controversial because the research process destroys fertilized human embryos, which some people believe is immoral. The House passed the measure in May and it is expected to win a majority in the Senate. Neither chamber has enough votes to override Bush’s promised veto.

Embryonic stem cell studies have the support of a majority of Americans in part because the research holds great promise in the search for treatments and cures for such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and cancer.

Frist, a heart transplant surgeon, supports the bill. He floated the deal earlier this week amid an end-of-year legislative crunch with unfinished items that include must-pass spending bills, Harriet Miers’ Supreme Court nomination and disaster relief for the Gulf Coast.

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