Jan 11, 2007
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 11---In a speech delivered this morning on the floor of the House of Representatives, U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper urged President Bush to sign life-saving stem cell legislation. This afternoon, the House passed H.R. 3, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, by a vote of 253-174. Cooper was an original co-sponsor of the bill. Below is an excerpt from his remarks.

Many millions of American families face dread diseases-cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, you name it-and today we have an exciting opportunity to vote for a chance of curing those diseases. Last year, in the Republican Congress, the vast majority of this body and this Senate voted for embryonic stem cell research. This year the majorities will be even larger. I would urge the President not to veto this legislation as he did last year. It's the only veto of his entire presidency. He is the first president since Thomas Jefferson to have vetoed so few bills, but he chose last year to veto hope. I urge the President not to veto hope this year.

Cooper, a cancer survivor, has supported expanding stem cell research for years, and in 2005 he served on the team of lawmakers who helped rally support for stem cell legislation that eventually passed the House.  He also believes that safeguards on research are essential and supports limits such as those recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.  Cooper has voted for legislation that makes it illegal to perform research on human embryos created only for research purposes.

Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., PhD and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at Vanderbilt Medical Center, also said that medical researchers are at a critical point in stem cell research.   "Vanderbilt and other leading academic medical centers are on the threshold of phenomenal progress in stem cell research, but we are being slowed by these federal restrictions.  The potential benefit to patients for this research is staggering."

Vanderbilt's efforts in stem cell research are largely focused on diabetes and heart failure.  Vanderbilt is the coordinating center for the NIH (National Institutes of Health) beta cell consortium, a leading international effort in stem cell research.

"As a cancer survivor, I know the importance of supporting medical research," Cooper said.  "Our medical research institutions have done great work in recent years, but there is so much more we should be doing to help families confronting serious disease.  Congress is once again trying to give these families hope for the future; the president should be proud to put his name on this bipartisan bill. I encourage him to sign it when it arrives at his desk."