President Bush used the first veto of his presidency Wednesday to stop legislation easing limits on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
The president spoke about the issue this afternoon in the White House East Room, surrounded by 18 families who "adopted" frozen embryos that were not used by other couples, and then used those leftover embryos to have children.
While both the GOP-run House and Senate defied Bush in passing the measure to expand federally funded embryonic stem research, supporters do not appear to have the two-thirds vote margin needed to override such a veto.
Pleadings from celebrities, a former first lady and fellow Republicans did not move Bush from his determination to reject the bill. However, lawmakers planned to try as soon as Bush issues the veto.
Bush’s latest statement was following two days of emotional debate in Congress, punctuated by stories of personal and family suffering, that cast lawmakers into the intersection of politics, morality and science.
Strong majorities in the House and Senate joined sentiments with most Americans and passed a bill that lifts restriction currently limiting federally funded research to stem cell lines created before Aug. 9, 2001.
"I expect that the House will sustain the president’s veto," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Disappointed lawmakers said they intended to keep pushing to lift the restrictions.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in advance of the veto that the move "sets back embryonic stem cell research another year or so."
The Senate voted 63-37 on Tuesday, four votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a veto. The House last year fell 50 votes short of a veto-proof margin when it passed the same bill, 238-194.
Bush has made 141 veto threats during his time in office, and the Republicans controlling Congress typically respond by changing bills to his liking.
Bush’s stand against stem cells is popular among conservative Republicans that the party will rely on in the congressional elections this fall. Those opponents are the same voters who have felt alienated by Bush’s actions to increase legal immigration, and the veto could bring them back into the fold.
© 2006 The Associated Press