The Corner


From today’s Congressional Quarterly (itals mine):

Obama Lifts Restrictions on Stem Cell Research; Wants Congress To Do More

By Alex Wayne and Adriel Bettelheim, CQ Staff

By lifting former President George W. Bush ’s restrictions on funding embryonic stem cell research, President Obama creates an opportunity for Congress to write new rules assuring expanded government support for the fast-growing field.

Codifying the Obama administration’s position would enable stem cell researchers to tap some of the $10 billion in funding for National Institutes of Health biomedical research contained in the recently enacted economic stimulus package (PL 111-5).

It also would block any of Obama’s successors from overturning his support through similar executive actions.

“Congress is likely to cement this policy so it would take a majority of the House and Senate to overturn it,” said Michael Rugnetta, a bioethics researcher at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank that advised the administration on the issue.

Obama issued an executive order on Monday that overturns a Bush policy restricting federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to the 21 cell lines known to exist on Aug. 9, 2001.

Obama’s action gives NIH 120 days to develop guidelines for expanded research, including rules assuring that donors give informed consent and are not paid to donate eggs or embryos.

It does not address a congressional prohibition on using taxpayer funds to help create human embryos for research purposes or destroy them for their stem cells.