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CHERYL GLASER: The Senate kicks off debate today on legislation that could boost federal funding for stem cell research. The controversial bill has already passed the House. The Senate's expected to give it the go-ahead as well, but President Bush has vowed to veto the measure. As Marketplace's Sarah Gardner reports, it's a high-stakes debate both politically and financially:

SARAH GARDNER: The federal government does fund research on embryonic stem cells.

Last year it spent more than $37 million on more than 150 stem cell-related projects. But President Bush has restricted federal money to research on stem cell lines created before 2001.

But those lines are quickly becoming exhausted and scientists want the restrictions lifted. If that happens, more federal dollars could follow.

Jesse Reynolds is with the non-profit Center for Genetics and Society.

JESSE REYNOLDS: "That pool of money would increase as the amount of research that could be funded becomes broader. We're talking about the upper tens of millions of dollars per year federally speaking."

No matter what happens in Washington, private and state money will probably end up funding most future stem cell research. California alone has committed $3 billion.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

Follow Sarah Gardner at @RadioGardner