(1) Stem Cell Research — Executive Order of March 9, 2009:
Sec. 1: . . . For the past 8 years, the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been limited by Presidential actions. The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind.
Sec. 2. Research. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law.
Sec. 3. Guidance. Within 120 days from the date of this order, the Secretary, through the Director of NIH, shall review existing NIH guidance and other widely recognized guidelines on human stem cell research, including provisions establishing appropriate safeguards, and issue new NIH guidance on such research that is consistent with this order.
In a memo to senior government officials, Obama said they must check with Attorney General Eric Holder before relying on any of Bush's signing statements for guidance. Bush often issued a statement when signing a bill into law, and critics said the statements at times showed government officials how to circumvent the law if Bush disagreed with it on constitutional grounds.
By this memorandum, I assign to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Director) the responsibility for ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch's involvement with scientific and technological processes. The Director shall confer, as appropriate, with the heads of executive departments and agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget and offices and agencies within the Executive Office of the President (collectively, the "agencies"), and recommend a plan to achieve that goal throughout the executive branch.
Each of these events is worthy of its own thoughtful post (in fact, I've written about these subjects many times before, complaining about the Bush policies). But there's really nothing to say, except to note the speed with which these Bush-era policies are being undone.
I will comment, however, on Republican Eric Cantor. He recently said on CNN that Obama's stem cell reversal order is a distraction from dealing with the economy:
"Why are we going and distracting ourselves from the economy? This is job No. 1. Let's focus on what needs to be done."
First of all, Obama signed an executive order. Didn't really take a lot of time. Obama, I'm sure, can do that and focus on the economy.
Secondly, reversing the policy on stem cell research will create jobs (not to mention, oh, curing diseases).
Thirdly, Cantor is no position to talk about Obama's supposed failure to focus on "Job. No 1". Here are some bills that Cantor has co-sponsored in the past two months:
– H. Res. 204: Congratulating the American Dental Association for its 150th year of working to improve the public’s oral health and promoting dentistry.
– H. Res. 18: A bill honoring the life, achievements and contributions of Paul Newman.
– H.R. 997: To declare English as the official language of the United States.
– H.R. 836: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the tax on beer to its pre-1991 level, and for other purposes.