Menendez, Lautenberg Urge Action On Pending Stem Cell Legislation

Menendez, Lautenberg Urge Action On Pending Stem Cell Legislation

Senators: Politics should not prevent scientific progress

Camden - U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg today called on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to immediately allow consideration of critical stem cell legislation that the Senate GOP has thus far refused to bring to the Senate floor. While touring Camdens Coriell Institute, a state-of-the-art facility that specializes in groundbreaking biomedical research, the lawmakers also implored President Bush to abandon his previous threats to veto critical stem cell legislation.

"We owe it to the American people to the millions of Americans and their families suffering from life-altering disabilities and diseases to demonstrate our nations full commitment to finding a cure," Menendez said. "It is imperative that Senate Republicans stop the posturing and politicking and immediately bring this vital research to the Senate floor for a vote. It is also crucial that President Bush back down from his threat to veto this legislation. For many, this truly is a matter of life and death."

Over the last year as the President and the Republicans in Congress refused to expand funding for stem cell research 1.4 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer - over 13,000 children were diagnosed with Diabetes - and 60,000 Americans were told they had Parkinsons Disease, said Lautenberg. As the Senate takes up this stem cell bill this summer, lets hope the voices of families who have been stricken by these terrible conditions are louder than the extreme special interest groups that have controlled the agenda for too long.

The U.S. House of Representatives last year passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, and both New Jersey Senators co-sponsored companion legislation in the Senate. During Health Week, Senator Menendez urged the Republican leadership to allow consideration of the legislation, and his call was heeded with a compromise to bring the bill to a vote. While this is a positive step forward, the senators are urging an immediate vote on this vital piece of legislation which could enable researchers to one day cure disease and save lives.

Senator Menendez, whose mother suffers from Alzheimers disease, has long been an advocate of stem cell research. Menendez voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act while serving in the House of Representatives, as well as the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act and the Pancreatic Inslet Cell Transplantation Act bill.

In 2004, New Jersey became the second state in the nation to enact a law that specifically permits embryonic stem cell research and has since channeled millions of dollars into this effort. Camdens Coriell Institute has long been a pioneer in stem cell research in the state and throughout the nation. A bill which has passed the New Jersey Senate and is awaiting debate in the NJ Assembly, will combine the Coriell Institutes resources along with those of a variety of other institutions to form a $50 million stem cell facility in the Garden State.

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