Friday, July 11, 2003

Asbestos Comp Bill Passes Committee

A Senate Committee late last night passed Orin Hatch's asbestos compensation bill by a mostly party line vote of 10-8. But all is not well.
Organized labor, whose support is seen as key to getting broad Democratic backing, withheld its assent. AFL-CIO counsel Jonathan Hiatt said the planned awards, as low as $25,000 for a smoking lung cancer victim, were not enough.

Meanwhile support for Hatch's proposal was eroding among some of its earlier backers. Insurers announced they were opposed after senators decided to ask industry and insurers for $52 billion each in contributions to the fund -- $7 billion more than the $45 billion each side had agreed to pay.

"We will oppose this," American Insurance Association spokeswoman Julie Rochman said.