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Cloning gives Greenwood national profile

By Rick Martinez
Staff Writer

The media, both national and foreign, turned out Wednesday for the 8th District congressman's first hearing as a subcommittee chairman.

WASHINGTON —Jim Greenwood woke up early Wednesday morning.

He needed to because a self-proclaimed prophet carrying what he says is a message from another world was waiting for him.

When Greenwood strode into Room 2123 of San Rayburn Building in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, it was to preside over a hearing on human cloning. This was Greenwood's first hearing as chairman of the powerful Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, and serendipity mixed with political calculation produced a huge coming-of-age party.

From his center seat at the head of the cavernous room, the fifth-term Republican, who represents Bucks County and portions of Montgomery, surveyed network television cameras, several correspondents from four countries and dozens of reporters from newspapers, magazines and radio who filled the seats and lined the back wall.

The Wall Street Journal was there. The Los Angeles Times, Japanese television and CNN, too. Greenwood already had interviewed with CBS that morning, and NBC was calling him about doing the "Today Show." A couple of days earlier, the new subcommittee chairman had been on "ABC World News Tonight,'' and during Wednesday's hearing President Bush felt compelled to mention the investigation and state his position against cloning.

It is, as Greenwood said in his opening statement, a brave, new world.

The Rayburn Building is across the street from the U.S. Capitol, but a world away from the semi-rural Holland community where Greenwood grew up. Still, after eight years and three months in Congress, the social-worker-turned-lawmaker said he was only a "little nervous" about suddenly finding himself in so bright a national spotlight.

He got out of bed early, in a bow to the complicated nature of human cloning, spent extra time trying to understand the science behind what, until recently, was only science fiction.

"What's worrisome is making an ass of yourself in front of the entire nation," he said. "It's different than when you were just talking to a small group of people."

One of the perks of chairmanship is that Greenwood gets a couple of extra staff members to work on subcommittee business. He picked what to probe, and they prepared his homework.

Greenwood is also clearly relishing the new weight he gets to throw around Washington.

On his way to cast a vote during a break in the hearing, Greenwood told how one important witness didn't want to appear. Dr. Panos Zavos, an American fertility specialist working on human cloning in Israel, called the congressman's office last week and said he couldn't make it to Washington.

"I called him back the next day and said, 'How about I just send over a military cargo plane to pick you up?'" Greenwood recalled with a smile. "He changed his mind and said he will be able to come."

Dr. Zavos came, as did ethicists, a religious leader, geneticists, lawyers, bureaucrats and everybody else that Greenwood, with the power of Congress behind him, asked to Washington to testify.

Thursday, March 29, 2001

 


 

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