President Obama reiterated his plan to relax Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research Friday.

In response to a question from Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the House Democratic retreat in Williamsburg, Va., Obama declared that, as he promised during his campaign for the White House, he would issue an executive order lifting President Bush's policy that limits government funding for research on embryonic stem cells, which scientists say could lead to treatments and cures for countless ailments.

"I guarantee you that we will sign an executive order for stem cells," Obama said, according to a press pool report distributed by the White House.

"God gave us [the] power to make smart decisions , to cure diseases, to alleviate suffering," Obama said, congressional sources in attendance at the closed-door meeting told a member of the White House press corps.

Obama also assured the Democratic lawmakers that he remained committed to enacting legislation fleshing out a new federal stem cell research policy.

On Aug. 9, 2001, Bush established a policy forbidding federal funding of research using embryonic stem cells created after that date.

Opponents of the research object to the fact that human embryos are destroyed in the process of creating the stem cells.

Congress twice passed bipartisan legislation to overturn the restrictions but Bush vetoed the bills.

-- Jeffrey Young