Wednesday, July 19, 2006


After far too many chances, President George W. Bush has finally issued his first veto:

(WaPo) President Bush issued the first veto of his five-year-old administration yesterday, rejecting Congress's bid to lift funding restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research...

At a White House ceremony where he was joined by children produced from... "adopted" frozen embryos, Bush said taxpayers should not support research on surplus embryos at fertility clinics, even if they offer possible medical breakthroughs and are slated for disposal.

The vetoed bill "would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," the president said, as babies cooed and cried behind him. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect." Each child on the stage, he said, "began his or her life as a frozen embryo that was created for in vitro fertilization but remained unused after the fertility treatments were complete... These boys and girls are not spare parts."

Within hours of Bush's announcement, the House, as expected, fell short in a bid to override the veto, extinguishing the issue as a legislative matter this year...

Bush did sign a bill, unanimously passed this week by the House and Senate, to ban the creation of human fetuses for the sole purpose of harvesting organs. But the House thwarted prompt passage of another bill he had hoped to sign yesterday. It would have promoted efforts to conduct stem cell research without destroying human embryos...

Bush has threatened vetoes on numerous issues over the years, but he and the Republican-controlled Congress had always worked out their differences. On stem cells, however, the president drew a sharp line during his first nationally televised address, on Aug. 9, 2001, banning government funding for research using human embryonic stem cell colonies created after that date.

The AP adds:
Bush has made 141 veto threats during his time in office, and the Republicans controlling Congress typically respond by changing bills to his liking. His single veto is a departure from the practices of other recent presidents - Bill Clinton had 37, Bush's father had 44 and Ronald Reagan had 78.
Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all faced Congresses controlled by the opposing party. The long wait for George W. Bush's first veto shows his success in making deals with Congress.

And from Reuters:
Bush is the first president to complete four years in office without a veto since John Quincy Adams in the 1820s. He had threatened vetoes before but refrained after reaching compromises with the Republican-controlled Congress.
The President was right to veto this bill. The veto doesn't even prohibit embryonic stem cell research, it just continues to deny increased (and possibly useless) federal funding. Advocates have been claiming the ambiguous research would benefit as many as 110 million Americans - if that's true they'll have no trouble raising money the old fashioned way: by actually raising it.

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