The New York Times reports today that President Bush will try to temper the political blowback of his veto of expanded stem cell research by offering a new proposal in its place:
Bush Will Pair Veto With New Cell Initiative
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times – June 20, 2007
President Bush will issue an executive order intended to encourage scientific advances in regenerative medicine, according to senior White House officials who said Mr. Bush would announce the initiative on Wednesday, just as he vetoes a measure promoting embryonic stem cell research.
The embryonic stem cell measure has widespread public support, and the veto would be the second time Mr. Bush has rejected it. By pairing the veto with a new scientific initiative, the White House clearly hopes to blunt the inevitable criticism that Mr. Bush will face from researchers, advocates for patients and politicians, including many in his own party.
The article later addresses the reality of the President’s proposal, however:
But the effort appears largely symbolic — there is no money attached — and some scientists were instantly skeptical. Two leading stem cell researchers, interviewed Tuesday evening, said the recent work was no substitute for embryonic stem cell research. One, Douglas A. Melton of Harvard University, said he had become aware recently that the White House was trying to reach out to some of his colleagues who are pursuing the skin cell research, which has not been replicated in humans.
“It should be pursued just as actively as we pursue human embryonic stem cell research,” Dr. Melton said of the recent studies. “I'm not trying to say there's nothing to this,” he continued, “but it doesn't need any special attention from the White House. All we've ever asked is let human embryonic stem cell research vie for public funding like all other research.”
Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel spoke on the matter this morning:
“The American people will not be fooled. The President has failed to lead and instead made a decision that is a crushing blow to millions of Americans suffering from diseases like Parkinsons, Alzheimer's and ALS. Sixty years ago, when America was plagued with polio, this nation and its political leaders rose to the challenge and took on the medical challenge of their time. Thank goodness we are not facing that challenge now. And we had leaders then who put medical science ahead of political stands.”