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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was one of just two House members to vote last week against a bill reauthorizing initiatives that proponents say aid sick Americans with leukemia and other potentially deadly blood diseases through umbilical cord blood stem cell and bone marrow programs.

The House approved the TRANSPLANT Act on a 415-2 vote with U.S. Rep. Laura Boebert, R-Colorado, joining Greene in voting no.

"Last night, Congress passed a bill which is not clear about preventing buying of body parts of babies murdered in the womb," Greene, a conservative firebrand, tweeted on Friday. "I voted NO."

Greene spokesman Nick Dyer said "nothing in this bill prevents the funding of aborted fetal tissue by taxpayers. It opens the door for the [National Institutes of Health] to use this bill to research the remains of babies who were murdered in the womb. Congresswoman Greene will always vote 100% Pro-Life."

Efforts to reach a Boebert spokesperson Friday were unsuccessful. Newsweek quoted the Colorado lawmaker saying "this bill added hundreds of millions of dollars to the national debt, while not receiving a CBO [Congressional Budget Office] score or going through the committee process."

Twelve other House Republicans abstained from voting on the bill.

All seven of Tennessee's Republican congressional members as well as the two Democrats voted for the measure, House Resolution 941, according to House roll call tallies. Excluding Greene, Georgia's other six Republican representatives and six Democratic members voted yes.

Among those voting yes were two Republican Tennessee representatives who are physicians, Scott DesJarlais of Sherwood and Mark Green of Portland.

"H.R. 941 will aid in the advancement of adult stem cell technology to create new lifesaving treatments, which is why Congressman DesJarlais was one of 415 members of Congress to vote in its passage," said Alex Swisher, a DesJarlais spokesperson, explaining why the congressman voted for the TRANSPLANT Act.

Efforts to reach Greene for further comment were unsuccessful.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida, a bill cosponsor, stated following the vote the program "provides critical support in the advancement of research for better treatments and the infrastructure necessary to organize registries which help ensure transplant patients have access to life-saving procedures."

Among those championing the legislation was U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who in a House floor speech later posted on the National Right to Life website noted the measure includes the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, which he began championing in 2001, as well as the National Marrow Donor Program.

He said the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match has "facilitated more than 105,000 transplants. According to Be the Match, more than 40,000 patients have received cord blood transplants."

Smith, whose office did not return a Times Free Press call on Friday, said umbilical cord blood stem cells, "obtained after the birth of a child, have proved highly efficacious in treating 70 diseases, including sickle-cell disease, lymphoma, and leukemia."

Noting millions of babies are born annually in the U.S., Smith said in the past "virtually every placenta and umbilical cord was tossed as medical waste. Today, doctors have turned this medical waste into medical miracles."

The bill's lead House sponsor, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California, said in a statement following the measure's passage that "every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. For patients and families facing these fatal diseases, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant may be the best treatment or only potential for a cure."

Matsui's office did not respond Friday to a reporter's call.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed, R-Rhode Island, and Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, are sponsoring S.288, the Senate's version of the bill.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 614-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.

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