Heavy Legislative Agenda On Tap For House This Week

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The House of Representatives has several hot items on its legislative agenda when Members returns to work on Tuesday, and lawmakers have extra incentive to get things done: Their month-long August recess is supposed to begin on Friday.

The legislation on tap includes a bill to ban human cloning, President Bush's energy package, and a health maintenance organization reform bill.

The House is also scheduled to consider various appropriations bills, and a "patient's bill of rights" and trade promotion authority may also be acted upon.

On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to debate the "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001," a bill that passed the House Judiciary Committee last Tuesday. It would assure the legal rights of born-alive children and prohibit the cloning of human embryos.

The committee approved the act on an 18-11 party-line vote. Democrats blasted the measure as a heavy-handed attempt to smother stem-cell research.

The legislation highlights the split in the pro-life movement over embryonic stem-cell research.

Some pro-life Republicans support it, but the Pope and others have denounced it. President George W. Bush is now mulling whether the federal government should fund the embryonic science that may provide cures to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.

"It destroys stem-cell research, that's what this bill does," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). The anti-cloning measure would prohibit the petri-dish production of human embryos for the purpose of using them for cloning experimentation.

The American Life League took out a full-page ad in Friday's Washington Times encouraging the president to keep his promise to "oppose federal funding for stem-cell research that destroys human embryos."

The "Energy Security Act", part of President Bush's proposed energy package is also on tap.

This bill would provide "incentives for cleaner energy sources and alternative fueled vehicles" and promote "clean coal technologies." It would also "simplify" regulation of nuclear and hydroelectric power, something the president said he wants in order to make the United States more energy independent.

Some insiders predict that the House may vote on a Patients Bill of Rights before adjournment for the August recess. That bill was the subject of a meeting that President Bush held Thursday with several lawmakers at the White House.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) was among those in attendance. He said he has still not decided when he will support the Fletcher-Johnson bill that the President wants or the Ganske-Dingell bill.

"I have not firmly determined which measure I will support, but I told the president that I have been listening to hundreds of interested constituents in my district and will continue to do so right up to the vote. I believe what when it comes to an issue as important as this, it is critical that I know how the people I was elected to represent feel," Jones said.

Fletcher's bill would guarantee that patients have access to quality health care and necessary remedies and hold HMO's accountable for their decisions. The Ganske-Dingell bill makes it easier to sue insurers "that improperly deny treatment or provide substandard care resulting in serious injury or death."

The Fletcher bill "tightly restricts lawsuits and directs most cases to federal court," Jones said.