Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 221-199 to pass the legislation that would deny and delay justice for asbestos victims. The “Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency” (FACT) Act would benefit large asbestos companies by making it more difficult for victims of asbestos to file and win claims.
Many FACT Act opponents reacted to the news of its passing in the House with displeasure.
“I’m deeply disappointed in the vote, but grateful to the Members of Congress who stood up for asbestos victims and their families in opposing legislation that hurts cancer victims,” said Susan Vento, widow of Congressman Bruce Vento, who died from mesothelioma in 2000. “We will continue to oppose this legislation and ensure that it never becomes law.”
The bill also negatively affects U.S. veterans, as they are disproportionately affected by asbestos-related diseases. Approximately 30 percent of all Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos in the military.
“Congress today forced asbestos victims and their families to release private information that will put them at risk of identity theft,” said Judy Van Ness, widow of Naval Veteran Richard L. Van Ness, in a press release. “This delays and could deny badly needed compensation to victims and their families.”
House representatives who were opposed to the bill also spoke out about it’s flaws.
“This is just an unfair and unnecessary advantage bestowed on asbestos manufacturers,” said John Conyers Jr.-D-Mich, during the floor debate last night. “Why is it necessary for a claimant to give up their right to privacy just because they seek compensation?”
Representative House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stood against the “so-called” FACT Act, as well, calling it “mean-spirited.”
“There is no need for this bill,” Rep. Pelosi said during the debate. “State laws require for adequate disclosure. This bill is unnecessary.”
Even though H.R. 982 passed in the House of Representatives, it still needs to pass in the Senate and be signed by the President before it officially becomes law.