Bush's first veto will be the most cruel

How devoted is George W. Bush to his patrons in the Religious Right?

No U.S. president since Thomas Jefferson, who left office in 1809, has gone this far into a presidency without exercising veto power. But Bush is about to use it on stem cell legislation that is bipartisan to the almost ludicrous point of the president being out of step with conservative, anti-choice stalwarts like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Trent Lott (R-MS), who all support the bill.

The Senate began debate yesterday on H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which will expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and open the door to enhanced treatment or cures for a wide array of maladies including cancer, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

The legislation would mitigate the limits on federal funding of stem cell research that Bush imposed in 2001.

But a policy statement issued by the White House said that passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act would compel "all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells. Should the legislation be presented to the president, he would veto the bill."

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow confirmed that on Monday saying "the administration has released a statement of administration policy expressing a veto threat about H.R. 810, the stem cell bill, that has been cleared and published… We've got a formal veto threat out for it in the form of a statement of administration policy."

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