Iowa’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Tom Harkin, is commending a Republican colleague for putting principles before politics. Senate Majority Leader Frist, a Republican, parted company with the White House and religious conservatives today (Friday) to announce he supports increased federal funding for research on stem cells. Harkin urges Frist to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate as soon as possible. He says leaders in the U.S. House won strong bipartisan support for the measure, 239-194, and “now it’s the Senate’s turn.” Harkin says the bill should be passed, without any further amendments, and sent on to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Harkin says the research can be done without creating any new human embryos to provide the stem cells. “There are, as we know, currently more than 400-thousand embryos that are sitting frozen in IVF (in-vitro fertilization) clinics in excess of clinical need. We can either continue to discard them, or we can use some of them to derive cells to help millions of suffering people.” Along with Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Harkin co-sponsored a House-passed bill to lift the president’s restrictions on stem-cell research. Stocks of bio-tech companies soared on Wall Street today with news of the majority leader’s support for funding stem-cell research.
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