US President George W. Bush rejected legislation Wednesday that could have multiplied the federal money going into embryonic stem cell research, making an emotionally charged life-and-death issue the first veto of his presidency.
Just over five hours later, the House voted 235-193 to overturn the president's action, but that was 50 votes short of the two-thirds majority required for rejection.
"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect."
Most Americans disagree with the president, according to public opinion polls. A number of lawmakers expressed confidence the legislation would some day become law and some suggested Bush's stance could hurt Republicans in congressional elections this fall.
"Mr. President, we will not give up," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "We will continue this battle."