Bush Set to Use First Veto on Stem Cell Bill

President Bush is set to veto his first bill.

Since his inauguration in 2000, President Bush has gone out of his way to avoid an overt confrontation with Congress. He has been helped by the strong support of GOP leaders, who have made sure that he has been sent bills to his liking, and he has been willing to swallow some legislation — a campaign finance package, for instance — to avoid a political confrontation. But Bush is unwilling to tolerate deviations from his policy restricting federal funding for stem cell research that he set out in his first prime-time television address in August 2001. If all goes as scheduled later this week, he will do something he has avoided for nearly six years: veto a bill.

It’s about time, I guess, for him to veto something. I’d certainly have preferred it be a spending bill.

I haven’t studied the stem cell debate all that closely but tend to think the president’s compromise position makes sense. Given that abortion is reality, it seems strange to compound the tragedy by not at least getting potential medical benefits from the discarded tissue. At the same time, however, a substantial enough percentage of the population feels strongly about the issue that using federal funding for something they find morally outrageous is unnecessary.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. whatever says:

    For the record, it is a spending bill – the U.S. gov’t can’t spend money on research in this area. If you want to personally, then this bill doesn’t stop you.

  2. madmatt says:

    A substantial amount of the country doesn’t want us spending money in Iraq either…when do we see a veto on those bills?

  3. LJD says:

    I’d like to veto the bill that supports foreign policy by opinion polls…

  4. Madmatt,

    We had the vote on spending for the Iraq war in 2004. Your side lost.

  5. McGehee says:

    If all goes as scheduled later this week, he will do something he has avoided for nearly six years: veto a bill.

    My prediction: all will not go as scheduled.

  6. vc says:


    No, we all lost. Your side just hasn’t figured that out yet.

  7. LJD says:

    Victor Charlie?

  8. spencer says:

    The discarded tissues have nothing to do with abortion. To the contrary the discarded tissues are a byproduct of procedures that help people have children.

  9. gattsuru says:

    Well, to be more precise, the ‘discarded tissue’ is just the result of one method for people to produce children. IVF clinics could prevent the construction of any excess ones, but there’s no law requiring them to, so typically it’s up to the doctor or patients.

    The problem is that while you can do research with only a few stem cells, you don’t just need a few destroyed ’tissues’ to provide actual treatments. Same issue as with bone marrow transplants : any differences between the host’s cells and the stem cells can result in scarring, even deadly, HVGD.

    In short, actual treatments with this sort of science will require theraputic cloning (and destruction of the resulting embryos en masse).