Senate passes stem cell bill, but misses veto-proof majority

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The Senate passed a controversial stem cell bill, but it failed to muster the votes to override an expected presidential veto. Such a development could lead to a repeat of events last July, when the president vetoed an identical bill.

Senators passed the bill (S. 5) by a vote of 63-34, narrowly missing a two-thirds margin needed to guarantee passage. The bill would allow embryos discarded from in vitro fertilization clinics to be donated for research. Current White House policy requires the cells to be derived before August 2001. Advocates of stem cell research believe that tapping into more stem cell lines could potentially lead to cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The Senate also passed a less-controversial stem cell bill (S. 30) this week. But at least one senator said he wouldn't vote for it because it does not mark a significant departure from current policy. The bill would fund research using embryos that have "died naturally."