Thursday, January 11, 2007

Researching the House Resolution

I went to the Library of Congress’ Thomas Web site: ( and searched (with the text button on) on H.R.3 and, of course, the direct hit was not H.R.3 but was H.R.6 which mentioned H.R.3. But being of a curious nature I opened it up to see what it was saying about H.R.3.


(a) Upon the adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to consider in the House the bill (H.R. 3 ) to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research. All points of order against the bill and against its consideration are waived. The bill shall be considered as read. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) three hours of debate equally divided and controlled by the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader or their designees; and (2) one motion to recommit.

(b) During consideration of H.R. 3 pursuant to this resolution, notwithstanding the operation of the previous question, the Chair may postpone further consideration of the bill to a time designated by the Speaker.

I found this interesting. This was just a minor section of House Resolution 6. I checked the status of this resolution and it passed in the house by what seems to me to be less than a comfortable margin of 232 to 200. Now I haven’t the vaguest idea of what else is in the bill and I’m not likely to take time to look. But a quick scan showed that it’s a whole mess of totally unrelated items – mixed in there as it is with prescription drugs, 9/11 stuff, minimum wage, etc.

Then I went back and searched on “Stem Cell” and found the resolution I was looking for. (I could have also searched on the specific bill number (instead of "as text") H.R.3 but where is the fun in doing things the easy way?) Calling it up, the first thing I noticed that it was introduced on the 5th and immediately referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. As usual, I’m behind schedule. Why couldn’t HDSA give me 30 days notice? Just kidding! The real question is “Why has it taken me so long to do this?”!

I also learned that this resolution is being presented as an amendment as follows:


Part H of title IV of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 289 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 498C the following:


(a) In General- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (including any regulation or guidance), the Secretary shall conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells in accordance with this section (regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo) .

(b) Ethical Requirements- Human embryonic stem cells shall be eligible for use in any research conducted or supported by the Secretary if the cells meet each of the following:

(1) The stem cells were derived from human embryos that have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of fertility treatment, and were in excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatment.

(2) Prior to the consideration of embryo donation and through consultation with the individuals seeking fertility treatment, it was determined that the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded.

(3) The individuals seeking fertility treatment donated the embryos with written informed consent and without receiving any financial or other inducements to make the donation.

(c) Guidelines- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary, in consultation with the Director of NIH, shall issue final guidelines to carry out this section.

(d) Reporting Requirements- The Secretary shall annually prepare and submit to the appropriate committees of the Congress a report describing the activities carried out under this section during the preceding fiscal year, and including a description of whether and to what extent research under subsection (a) has been conducted in accordance with this section.'.

This resolution looks reasonable to me. Actually my libertarian genes are screaming at me telling me that the fact that Congress is in this at all is just wrong – but that’s a totally different argument and since Congress has chosen to play in this game and since they write the rules of the game, then we play. Also, I happen to love the stadium . Have you ever been to Minute Maid Ballpark in Houston? I love that stadium too – but I digress.

Next, I checked the status of H.R.3 is and found that it has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Most excellent! I just need to get the names of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and send each one of them a “love my stem cells” letter. I went back to and clicked on Committees and found the link for House Committee on Energy and Commerce and clicked on it. I was immediately taken to the committee’s Web site at

Well, this is a bummer. The only thing I know for sure is that Congressman John Dingell is the committee chairman. The site says that they are still determining who is on the committee. Is this just an instance of the Web site not catching up or do they really not know yet who the committee members are going to be? It looks like I may need to find some “unofficial sites” to learn what’s going on.


Just before I left work for the day I just saw the CNN article on the Stem Cell legislation.

Apparently they’re going to pass this thing without my help! . I think I’ll focus my efforts on first informing the President of my position on the topic since that is where the first problem is and then come back to John Carter whose vote will be needed to override the inevitable veto.

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