Just One Vote

The new US political landscape might be just different enough to boost stem cell research.

Richard Gallagher
Nov 30, 2006

Do you remember July 18, 2006? If you don't, here's a reminder: That was the day the US Senate voted to approve HR 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005. The Scientist's deputy editor, Ivan Oransky, remembers watching the roll calls on C-SPAN. He knew that the numbers weren't enough to overcome a presidential veto that would have required 67 "yeas" but the drama held his attention anyway, just in case there was a last-minute surprise.

Of course, there wasn't. The final vote was 63-37, four votes shy. And the next day, when the House of Representatives, which had approved the bill in May 2005, held its own vote, the bill's proponents couldn't muster a veto-proof vote either, passing the bill 235-193. (They needed 290.)

That, however, was before November's midterm elections. In Tennessee, Republican Bill Frist, who supported embryonic stem cell research, didn't run, and Bob...