STATEMENT OF SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA) ON SENATE BILL TO FUND EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH
“This is a tremendously exciting time for millions of Americans who suffer from juvenile diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s, and other diseases. They have new hope for treatment – and perhaps a cure – thanks to embryonic stem cell research.
“Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would vastly expand the number of stem cell lines eligible for federally funded research. This was a strong, bipartisan vote – 238 to 194.
“I never thought I’d see the day when I’d say, ‘Thank goodness for that great stem cell bill the House sent us.’ But it just goes to show: the more people learn about stem cell research, the more they support this legislation.
“Now it’s up to us in the Senate to pass the same bill – HR 810. I understand that Senator Frist and Senator Reid are working out a way to bring the bill to the floor, and I commend them for that effort.
“The key is to pass this bill without any amendments. We don’t want it getting lost in a conference committee. We need to pass HR 810 by a strong, bipartisan majority, and send it straight to the President’s desk.
“The good news is that we have broad support in the Senate. We have Republicans and Democrats. We have Senators who are strongly pro-choice and Senators who are strongly pro-life – for instance, Senators Orrin Hatch and Gordon Smith.
“And we have support from another quarter – from the wonderful people in this room . . . advocates and patients whose lives could very well depend on how much progress we make with stem cell research.
“So, my friends, I urge you to call everyone you know across the country and ask them to tell their Senators to vote for HR 810 without any amendments.
“I was just chatting with the leaders of CAMR a few minutes ago, and they were telling me about all the great work you’re planning to do over the Fourth of July recess. I know you folks. I know you can accomplish anything you put your minds to. Just look at what you accomplished in the House.
“Now, we need you to work your magic once again. Call your Senators. Send them e-mails. If you see your Senators at a July Fourth picnic, bring them a hot dog, and urge them to support stem cell research.
“And one more thing, my friends: There’s been a lot of talk, recently, about new techniques for deriving embryonic stem cells. The truth is that most of these ideas are nothing but theories. They haven’t been tested. The data haven’t even been published in a journal.
“I’m for pursuing all forms of stem cell research – adult stem cells, cord blood, you name it. But scientists agree on this: nothing can match the tremendous potential of human embryonic stem cells. We can’t afford to put this research on hold while we wait for some new technique that may never pan out. Patients need help NOW.
“So let’s pass HR 810 in the Senate and bring hope to millions of Americans.”