Asbestos trust fund faces keen opposition

Feb. 7, 2006 at 10:08 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A coalition of U.S. corporations has pledged some $2.8 million to fight a proposed trust fund for victims of asbestos-related diseases.

With Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., saying the proposal is a top priority for the new congressional session, and the bill being co-sponsored by Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Pat Leahy, D-Vt., the measure would seem to have smooth sailing.

But The Hill newspaper in Washington reports there is a strong campaign to stop the measure. The Hill obtained a 22-page document from the Coalition for Asbestos Reform that outlines an attack on the trust fund.

The bill from Leahy and Specter seeks to establish a $140 billon fund for asbestos victims, The Hill said. The bill was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with all Republicans joined by Leahy, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., in support.

However, The Hill said, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has threatened a filibuster against the measure and some conservative Republicans have also voiced concern.

Groups opposed to the trust fund include labor unions, trial attorneys, some manufacturers and insurance companies, The Hill said.

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