A couple of turkeys getting pardoned isn't a big deal, compared with the hundreds of research chimps about to be spared a lifetime of living in research labs.
After President Obama pardons the turkeys Wednesday, he will sign into law a bill passed by the House and Senate that frees up restrictions on the National Institutes of Health to spend money on retired research chimps. The bill had strong bipartisan support on the Hill.
NIH has decided it won't use the animals for research anymore and has plans to retire most of them. But a 2000 law barred it from spending more than $30 million over time to take care of retired research chimps living in reserve sanctuaries, the retirement communities for our fellow primates. The agency had predicted it will hit that limit—or the "chimp cliff," if you will—sometime mid-November.
Obama will also sign a handful of health-related bills into law, including one that boosts federal oversight of pharmaceutical compounding. That legislation came about in the wake of hundreds becoming sick and more than 60 people dying from tainted steroid injections produced by a Massachusetts compounding center.