President Vetoes Stem Cell Research Bill - House Veto Override Attempt Falls 51 Votes Short
On July 19, President Bush issued the first veto of his presidency on a path-breaking medical research bill approved by strong majorities of both the House and Senate, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act [H.R. 810]. The legislation would have expanded federal funding for enormously promising embryonic stem cell research using embryos from fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded. Advocates for the legislation have said that embryonic stem cell research has the potential to unlock the doors to treatment and cures for diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and spinal cord injuries. Speaking in favor of the bill, Rep. Levin said, "This institution is often called the people's House and today I ask my colleagues to stand in the shoes of the millions of people dealing with incurable or debilitating diseases.... We can never guarantee the results of scientific research, but without it we guarantee there can be no results." A majority of the House voted to override the President's veto, but the effort fell 51 votes short of the two-thirds majority required under the Constitution. For more information, click here.
House Spends Hours Debating Bills with No Chance of Becoming Law
While oil prices surged to $80 a barrel as fighting spread in the Middle East and consumers continued to struggle to pay for rising energy, health care and college costs, the Leadership of the House of Representatives scheduled debates this week on two bills that had no chance of becoming law. On Tuesday, the House debated an amendment to the Constitution [H.J.Res. 88] defining marriage. The Senate rejected an identical amendment last month, and the House also failed to approve the constitutional amendment. On Wednesday, the House debated and approved a bill [H.R. 2389] to bar all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from hearing any case challenging the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. Even supporters of the Pledge bill acknowledged that there was no prospect of the Senate approving this measure. As the House debated the Pledge bill, Democrats attempted to force the House to debate a bill to increase the Federal minimum wage for the first time in 9 years, but the effort was rebuffed on a vote of 224 to 200.
Rep. Levin Cosponsors Bill to Replace Imported Oil with Home-Grown Biofuels
As the average price of a gallon of gasoline approached $3 across the country this week, a group of more than 50 House lawmakers have sponsored legislation [H.R. 5372] to move the U.S. away from its dependence on foreign sources of oil and toward home-grown, American-owned energy. The legislation includes provisions to greatly increase the use of biofuels in the United States, including ethanol and biodiesel; expand the number of vehicles that can run on ethanol; increase the number of E-85 pumps, and encourage research and development into new biofuel technologies. For more information, click here.
Study Shows Government Adding to Americans' Paperwork Burden
At the same time that the President and Members of Congress have been promising to reduce paperwork burdens, Americans are actually spending more time than ever on government paperwork, according to a new study released by the Ranking Member of the House Government Reform Committee, Representatives Waxman of California. According to the report, this year the average adult in the United States will spend almost an entire work week (39 hours) filling out government paperwork. The study indicated that the major causes of the paperwork burden are the new Medicare prescription drug plan as well as complicated tax law changes approved in 2001 and 2003. To read the study, click here.
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