Whatever Is Fastest

There is your answer, Democrats:

Thwarted by President Bush in their efforts to expand federal spending on embryonic stem cell research, Democrats are now debating whether to overturn federal restrictions through executive order or by legislation when they assume full control of the government this month.

Both President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders have made repealing Bush administration restrictions announced in 2001 a top priority. But they have yet to determine if Mr. Obama should quickly put his stamp on the issue by way of presidential directive, or if Congress should write a permanent policy into statute.

The debate is not academic. Democrats who oppose abortion say such a legislative fight holds the potential to get the year off to a difficult beginning, even though the outcome is certain given solid majorities in both the House and the Senate for expanded embryonic stem cell research.

Executive order. Just get it done.

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28 replies
  1. 1
    Rosali says:

    I second that.

    They can always go back later and pass a federal statute after we’ve been living under the presidential directive. At that point, if there’s any opposition, it would seem moot.

  2. 2
    Michael D. says:

    Executive order. Just get it done.

    Disagree. Always, always better to do it legislatively, if possible. And Congress can work fast if it wants to.

    If they can give a handout of $700 billion in a few days, they can do this.

  3. 3
    Ms. Missive says:

    Democrats who oppose abortion? Who let those guys in?

  4. 4
    Punchy says:

    even though the outcome is certain given solid majorities in both the House and the Senate for expanded embryonic stem cell research.

    Why, again, are we certain the Senate Repubs wont filly this?

  5. 5
    sparky says:

    I agree with Michael. This country has already gone waaaaay too far towards having an elected emperor. This haste stuff is exactly how Bush got away with doing all kinds of crap. Do we really want a country run by executive orders? Secret executive orders?

  6. 6

    I’m conflicted on this one. It would be good to get it done and executive order would save time and the outrage on the anti side would blow over quicker. But exec orders can be repealed and it would be good to have legislation instead.

    That might take longer and be uglier, but on the bright side, the research has wide public support and it would do the Dems good to show some spine on something early on in the session. Might redeem their dismal ratings if they actually — you know — do something and stand up to the GOPers.

  7. 7
    Jeff says:

    Whatever Is Fastest

    As someone with Parkinson’s, I could not agree more.

  8. 8

    "Further, I direct that a list of the following Senators and Congress Representatives be maintained, these being those who have voted against embryonic stem cell research. Should they need the fruits of this research for their own medical treatment, they will be required by law to first sit through a showing of Michael Moore’s "Sick", and successfully answer a written quiz on the documentary at the end".

  9. 9

    I believe in the Senate the last time they voted on SCR, there were quite a few repubs who supported it. Hatch,Spector, the Maine gals and several others are for federal funding of SCR. It was in the house where wingnuts were overwhelming opposed, but I think it passed there anyway, and Bush vetoed. If memory serves.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    demimondian says:

    Disagree. If it’s done by executive order, then it can be re-undone by executive order. Sorry, Harry, I know you don’t want -to do your job- deal with controversy, but this is one where doing it right is doing it fast.

    @Jeff has it right — whatever leads to the fastest treatments for patients. If reversing Bush by executive order would speed treatments to patients, I’d lean towards doing that. What that would risk, though, is that all ESC research would be stopped by the next Republican president, ultimately slowing the longer-term process down.

  12. 12
    gil mann says:

    Democrats who oppose abortion

    i.e. "Republicans."

  13. 13
    Emma Anne says:

    I vote executive order. It was an executive order in the first place, so this is just undoing it.

  14. 14
    robertdsc says:

    Democrats who oppose abortion say such a legislative fight holds the potential to get the year off to a difficult beginning

    They’ve had the past 8 years with their bullshit blocking progress. Time to step aside.

  15. 15
    kay says:

    It might be helpful if they took testimony from the adult-stem cell side. I participated in a bone marrow research effort in 2000, as part of a deal to donate bone marrow stem cells to a relative. The study WAS the treatment, so in that sense I didn’t have a choice. I drew the lucky "perfect match" card, 8 of 8 markers.
    It was awful, honestly, and the whole scientist-team lied like crazy about what we, the unlucky donors, were in for. Two weeks of a drug that makes your bones produce stem cells, prior to one week of pre-study hours-in-the-hospital-waiting-around, then 2 days of extraction. Your bones (this is not a medical description) are a closed system, re:marrow. When you jack up marrow stem cell production, it hurts.
    Adult stem cell production/extraction is no walk in the park, for bones, anyway. It’s a freaking nightmare. Blithely announcing that adult stem cell is the answer may be oversimplifying matters.

  16. 16
    Incertus says:

    How about both? Executive order to get the ball rolling quickly, and then backed up with legislation to give it greater permanence? That’s the best of both worlds, it seems to me.

  17. 17
    Roger Moore says:

    @kay:

    What you did isn’t quite the same thing as what they’re currently talking about with adult stem cells. The idea is that they’ll be able to take any body cell and force it to turn into any other type of body cell in the lab. So instead of painfully harvesting stem cells from a lucky relative, they’d take a few healthy cells from the patient, convert them into the kind they need, grow them up in the lab, and re-inject them into the patient. That way they’re guaranteed to be a perfect match, and there’s no need to hit up the patient’s relatives.

    FWIW, your suffering wasn’t completely in vain. I donated (to an unrelated recipient) just over a year ago, and the process has been streamlined considerably. They have the marrow stimulation stage down to 5 days, with collection on the last day of the 5, and the collection usually takes just one day. It was still a pain, but a manageable one. I can only imagine how much your donation must have hurt.

  18. 18
    kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I’ve read a little about the debate, so know that the goal now is "undifferentiated" adult cells. I am thrilled that the process is better now, and was better for you, the donor.

    She’s cancer-free, and a great person to know, I’m fine, and I’m glad I did it.

    I will never, ever understand why doctors think people like surprises. I’m always better if I have some idea of what’s next. If I ask, I want to know. If I don’t want to know, I don’t ask. It’s patronizing to protect. I like to prepare for the worst, then be grateful if it’s "not that bad". They screwed that all up for me, and it’s MY APPROACH. They’re brilliant lunkheads.

  19. 19
    Tsulagi says:

    Executive order. Just get it done.

    I’d prefer to see an early vote just to get an idea how this Congress is going to play. Legislation is ready. There’s support on the other side of the aisle. This is a no-brainer. If Dem leadership fails to push through getting something like this passed quickly caving to evolutionist-types obstructions from the R-Dobsonites, then it’s going to be a long four years of sternly worded resolutions.

    If that happens, and there’s no vote or they’re slow in bringing it up, then Obama should issue an executive order. But I don’t see him doing that too often. While Bush saw his executive order and findings prescription pads as the fourth and most important branch of government after him, Obama seems likely to go too far the other way.

  20. 20
    mvr says:

    @Incertus:

    As you suggest, both makes the most sense because for some stuff legislative action is faster. The process to write rules that are in effect involves comment periods and such when done within the exectutive branch. That isn’t true for everything as I understand it. When a rule did not go through agency rule making processes it may be much easier to just undo.

    OTOH, for rules that have gone into effect within 60 days of the next Congress, there is a fast track procedure for Congress to overrule them, and this sort of resolution cannot be fillibustered as I understand it. So for rules that would require comment periods and such to undo, the congressional option may be faster.

    There are other options as well — get sued and settle the lawsuit so that the settlement voids the rule is one that I think might work in some cases — at least until they rewrite the rule according to the official rule-making porcedures.

  21. 21
    kay says:

    For what it’s worth, I think the first legislation should be S-CHIP, not stem cell. It’s time. It had broad support last time, more people are unemployed, knocking more kids off health insurance, and it’s the ideal segue into health care reform. S-CHIP changes adults minds about how health care reform might actually make things better.

    Oh, and lower middle class people here like how it works, as a program, rely on it, and sign up, in droves. Listening to them is like listening to old people, re: Medicare. They’re really, really glad they have it.

  22. 22
    bernarda says:

    Executive Order. Are there any Bush executive orders that shouldn’t be reversed?

    Demowimps have to finally start learning to play hardball.

  23. 23
    Roger Moore says:

    @kay:

    I will never, ever understand why doctors think people like surprises. I’m always better if I have some idea of what’s next. If I ask, I want to know.

    Part of the problem with clinical trials is that the doctors don’t always know. They will have tested their new medicines in rodents and sometimes in people for other things, but the whole point of the trial is that they don’t know exactly what to expect. Sometimes they may miss an important point, like the new medicine hurting like hell.

    AFAIK, before trying it for HCT donors, the only use they had made of the medicines they gave you was in cancer patients. They didn’t know for sure how it would work in healthy donors. By the time they gave it to me, they had a big warning telling us that it was likely to hurt, and that we could ask for medicine up to and including Vicodin to help with the pain. So at least they learned something from your suffering that helped us subsequent donors.

  24. 24
    maryQ says:

    Legislative process. Better right than now. Senate support is high. This does not require an executive order. How much "faster" are we talking about? Six months? And tell me why that amount of time will make any difference to anyone other than the research support staff jumping though hurdles and mountains of red tape to be in compliance of the overly restrictive laws.

    We’ve waited this long. I’d rather wait a little longer than let wingnuttia turn this into evidence of "Obama’s radical pro-abortion agenda" or something.

  25. 25
    kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That makes sense. I’m admittedly dicey on doctors. I read my own chart the moment they leave the room, always.
    It’s heartening to find out, from your first-hand account, that the process kept chugging along, and got better.
    I read today that they’re bringing up S-CHIP immediately, so I don’t have to choose. They can do both S-CHIP and stem cell.

  26. 26
    Glidwrith says:

    Just to add my own two bits – don’t drink the Koolaid that embryonic stem cells = abortion. The source of embryonic stem cells for therapeutic use are from fertility clinics – fertilized eggs that are being thrown out as we speak and may well have defects to boot. That’s part of the reason why they weren’t used to help a couple become parents though they may well be good enough to help repair grown human beings. A second point is that obviously, if someone has had an abortion, the cells are far more differentiated than the 16-32 cell blastomere that is used in research. Therefore, while such cells may be used in research, they are most certainly not the "embryonic stem cells" which are taken from fertilized eggs. Embryonic stem cells not the product of an abortion (unless you are right-wing nut job trying to grant them personhood). I also agree that while executive order is nice, Bush has shown that they can be so much pixie dust.

  27. 27
    Zifnab25 says:

    I’m a big fan of the "both" option. Let Obama get the ball moving with an executive order. Then release funds explicitly via legislation.

    I’d rather not see President Palin or a fundie Senate cancel it out in 8 years when the nation loses its collective minds again.

  28. 28
    Zifnab25 says:

    I’m a big fan of the "both" option. Let Obama get the ball moving with an executive order. Then release funds explicitly via legislation.

    I’d rather not see President Palin or a fundie Senate cancel it out in 8 years when the nation loses its collective minds again.

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