A plan to create a $140-billion trust fund to pay victims of asbestos exposure has suffered a major setback in the Senate. In a Feb. 14 procedural vote, supporters of a bill to set up the fund fell one vote short of the 60 needed to prevent the measure from being sent back to committee. After the tally, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who backed the trust fund bill, switched his vote. That move allows him to call up the bill in the future, letting the legislation maintain what Frist termed a "heartbeat." The bill, introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), would establish a fund, to be financed by insurers and companies sued for asbestos liability. It also would limit lawsuits. Opponents include trial lawyers, small businesses, victims' rights advocates and some unions.
Asbestos: Senate Bill Sidetracked
February 20, 2006