From the New York Times:
In a break with President Bush, the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, has decided to support a bill to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, a move that could push it closer to passage and force a confrontation with the White House, which is threatening to veto the measure.
...The move could also have implications for Mr. Frist's political future. The senator is widely considered a potential candidate for the presidency in 2008, and supporting an expansion of the policy will put him at odds not only with the White House but also with Christian conservatives, whose support he will need in the race for the Republican nomination. But the decision could also help him win support among centrists.
..."I am pro-life," Mr. Frist said in the speech, arguing that he could reconcile his support for the science with his own Christian faith. "I believe human life begins at conception." But at the same time, he said, "I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported."
From the Los Angeles Times:
...The Christian Defense Coalition lambasted Frist's change of position.
"Sen. Frist should not expect support and endorsement from the pro-life community if he votes for embryonic research funding," it said.
"Senator Frist cannot have it both ways. He cannot be pro-life and pro-embryonic stem cell funding," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the group. "Nor can he turn around and expect widespread endorsement from the pro-life community if he should decide to run for president in 2008."
A heart-lung transplant surgeon who opposes abortion, Frist said loosening Bush's strict limitations on stem cell research would lead to scientific advances and "bridge the moral and ethical differences" that have made the issue politically charged.
"While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early stage, the limitation put into place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases," the Tennessee lawmaker said in his speech.
"Therefore, I believe the president's policy should be modified. We should expand federal funding ... and current guidelines governing stem cell research, carefully and thoughtfully, staying within ethical bounds," he said.