The U.S. Senate is finally slated to vote today on a bill that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. If passed, the bill would lift a presidential mandate set in 2001 that severely limited federal funding of stem cell research. This reversal would be a huge boon to stem cell scientists, who have been forced to turn to private or state sources for funding.
President Bush has repeatedly vowed to veto the bill, though, which the Senate is expected to pass on Tuesday. Its more optimistic proponents hope the bill will garner the 67 votes needed to override a veto. However, the bill fell 50 votes short of a veto-proof margin when it was passed in the House last year.
An article in the New York Times gives an informative outline of the bill, its supporters, and its opponents. Here’s the bill. For more on this field, check out Technology Review’s special report on stem cell science, and especially TR correspondent Charles Mann’s feature “Braving Medicine’s Frontier” (September 2005,) which takes a look at how President Bush’s 2001 mandate crippled the field. – By Emily Singer