Iowa Senator Tom Harkin criticized the Republican Senate leader today for blocking two projects in which Harkin is a key supporter. Harkin, a democrat, says the bill that would ease the President’s restrictions on stem cell research is one that’s being blocked.

Harkin says, “The Senate has squandered almost an entire year waiting for majority leader Bill Frist to make good on his pledge to bring H-R A-10, the stem cell research bill, to the floor for a vote.” Harkin says Frist has designated next week as “health week,” but Harkin says Frist still doesn’t plan to bring the stem cell bill forward. Harkin says the bill could help many Americans suffering from a variety diseases.

Harkin says the bill is being held up for political reasons and says “that’s a shame.” Harkin says if the democrats were in control, the bill would have been brought up and passed a long time ago. Harkin says the Senate majority leader is holding up a bill to improve the locks and dams on the Mississippi River.

Harkin says it’s another example of Frist not bringing the bill up on the floor, even though it has “overwhelming support.” Harkin says the House passed the bill with over 400 votes. Harkin says the three-billion dollar bill would help improve the locks and dams, and also includes money for environmental mitigation.

Harkin says the bill would have a broad impact. He says it’s needed for farmers, for transportation systems and environmentally. On another topic, Senator Harkin is calling for U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by December 31st. Harkin says the U.S. also needs to make clear its intentions for Iraq.

Harkin says Congress should go on record saying the U.S. does not want to establish military bases in Iraq, and does not want to control Iraq’s oil. Harkin says the jihadists and insurgents are saying the U.S. is going to establish military bases and control Iraq’s oil as a way to recruit new members. Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, a republican, has reiterated his call for removing the troops from Iraq be co-sponsoring a House resolution on the issue.