Thursday, April 22, 2004

Senate Blocks Asbestos Comp Bill

In a 50 to 47 vote, the Senate failed to pass the Asbestos compensation bill today. 60 votes were needed to break a filibuster. All Democrats voted against the bill except (guess who?) Zell Miller (D-GA). According to the AFL-CIO the $124 billion bill was severely underfunded.
The action on a procedural vote disappointed Republican sponsors who want to rein in hundreds of thousands of asbestos lawsuits they say are crippling businesses.

It also marked another failure in a broad Republican effort to make changes in tort law. Other bills recently barred by the Senate included caps on malpractice damages and curbs to class action lawsuits.

Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist said after the vote his party would not give up, and some Democrats showed interest in compromise. Talks were expected to resume in the coming days.

But Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who sponsored the bill with Frist, said time was short in a busy election year.

"If we don't get that (consensus) done in another week, it seems to me that this bill is going to be dead," Hatch said. There is no comparable legislation in the House, which has been letting the Senate take the lead on the issue.
By the way, in case you think this victory was due to the hard work of Senators and their staff, you're wrong. Most of the endless work that went in to marshalling the evidence to convince enough Democrats to oppose this legislation was compiled by the AFL-CIO -- particularly due to the tireless efforts of AFL-CIO Occupational Safety and Health Director Peg Seminario. If you're feeling grateful, send here an e-mail expressing your appreciation. Even hero's need some love.