US President's Barack Obama's preference to work with Congress has got stem cell researchers, anxious to have federal funding limits lifted, feeling a little left out, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
When he was a candidate, Obama told the website sciencedebate2008.org that he would reverse Bush's restrictions on federal funding for the research "through executive order." Immediately following his campaign victory, transition director John Podesta told reporters that the stem cell order would be one of the first priorities.
But Obama recently signalled in remarks to Democratic lawmakers that he intended to wait for action in Congress.
Wary of a delay, one prominent advocacy group sent Obama a letter recently saying that he had pledged to revoke the Bush order.
"We wanted him to know that we were still counting on the campaign commitment," said Amy Comstock Rick, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research.
Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod told Fox News on Sunday that action could come soon.
Obama also reassured stem supporters during a new conference last week that he would soon restore the federal funding halted by his predecessor, George Bush, who banned the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.
The stem cell researchers join a number of liberal groups that had hoped Obama would act faster on their causes, and are worried what the delays might mean for his grass-roots support and the emphasis he has placed on getting broad congressional support even though the Democrats control the Congress.
Obama has been president for less than a month, and his liberal critics concede that the economic crisis has understandably taken the focus off their issues. But some of the issues in play were crucial to building excitement on the left and mobilizing grass-roots support for Obama's candidacy.
"He made very clear promises, and he should live up to them," said Arthur Stamoulis, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, which received an unqualified "yes" from Obama on a campaign questionnaire last year when the group asked if he would support "Buy American" requirements. "The fact that he's hedging on this is not promising. He's catering much too much to the desires of Republicans who are not going to support the change that voters wanted."
Thea Lee, policy director of the AFL-CIO, said, "We would like to have him stand more forthrightly behind the positions that he took during the campaign."