Asbestos Bill, S. 852, Fails to Clear Procedural Hurdle

Asbestos Bill Another Form of Corporate Bailout for Asbestos Companies

WASHINGTON, DC - February 15, 2006 - The Senate has effectively blocked the asbestos bill, S. 852, from moving forward. This flawed legislation would create an inadequate trust fund for asbestos victims, while depriving them of access to the courts. It also would establish unfair, arbitrary standards for determining who has an asbestos-related disease.

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) had objected to S. 852, saying that it would force taxpayers to pick up the costs of the underfunded asbestos trust. The bill's supporters were unable to muster the 60 votes necessary to overcome the Senator's procedural objection, thereby halting S. 852's progress.

On a technicality, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has reserved the right to bring S. 852 up for reconsideration. Some lobbyists and political experts believe that this action is unlikely and that S. 852 is now dead. Others say that the bill may still be considered. "We'll see if there are 100 people on campus," a senior GOP aide said (Congress Daily, February 15, 2006). "Asbestos is not dead." Arlen Specter (R-PA), the sponsor of the bill, declared "We have just begun to fight."

A death sentence for S. 852 would only gladden the hearts of asbestos victims and their families who have been fighting against this unfair legislation for far too long. S. 852 is also opposed by labor organizations, many Democrats and a combination of liberals and conservatives. The conservatives point out that S. 852 is a fiscally irresponsible bill that could saddle taxpayers with huge payments. The liberals are concerned that the asbestos trust fund would run out of money before many asbestos victims could be compensated.

Brayton Purcell and our team of asbestos lawyers have fought long and hard against S. 852 because it is a bail-out for asbestos companies that does nothing to truly help asbestos victims. We will continue to oppose any resurrection of this bill or similar legislation.