Asbestos bill on hold until it's filibuster-proof Greg Sampson at 11:30 AM ET
[JURIST] US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] said Friday that he would not allow any further floor debate on the controversial asbestos compensation bill [PDF text; bill summary; JURIST news archive] unless 60 senators pledged their support for the legislation in order to head off a possible filibuster. On Tuesday Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) [official website] raised an objection to the proposed law, arguing that it violated Senate budgetary rules. The Senate effectively agreed to close debate on the matter [Senate roll call] by failing to agree to exempt the bill from the objection.
If enacted, the asbestos bill would remove all asbestos injury claims from the courts, and would instead pay plaintiffs from a $140 billion private fund financed by defendant asbestos companies and their insurers. Earlier this week bill co-sponsor Sen. Arlen Specter said that despite the earlier vote on the objection, the bill was "very much alive" [Reuters report]. Reuters has more.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.