Momentum is growing against the so-called ‘Fact Act.’ Senate Bill No. 357 is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Nearly 20 national veterans service organizations have added their voices to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and others who have been urging congressional leaders to oppose the bill. If passed into law, the bill would change the federal bankruptcy code to give asbestos companies the ability to delay and deny claims of victims diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
Veterans Speak Out against FACT Act
Military veterans are disproportionally affected by asbestos-related diseases. They make up over a third of those diagnosed with mesothelioma. The veterans groups voiced their strong opposition to the bill in a letter to Senators Chuck E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the chair and ranking member of the committee, where the bill is currently under review.
“This bill is a cynical ploy by the asbestos industry to avoid compensating its victims who are seeking justice in court –many of whom are veterans who were doubly exposed; first while in uniform and when they went to work for companies that knowingly exposed them to the deadly fiber,” the letter stated.
Veterans groups who signed the letter include American Veterans (AMVETS), The National Defense Council, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and more. They join other national organizations speaking out against the bill.
Teachers, Fire Fighters and State Workers Oppose Legislation
The National Education Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have all voiced their opposition to the bill.
“Victims of asbestos exposure, including first responders and teachers, among many other dedicated public employees, are entitled to compensation from the companies that caused their illnesses. S. 357 [FACT], however, would give companies an unfair advantage over asbestos victims seeking justice for their injuries — speciously touted as a ‘transparency bill,’ the measure actually is designed to help the asbestos industry avoid paying victims through delay tactics and waste of scarce trust resources set aside for victims,” their letter stated.
Momentum against the bill continued Wednesday during its first hearing. During his opening remarks, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) submitted 44 individual letters from asbestos victims into the record.
“This bill puts an onerous burden on the trusts and the victims in the name of ‘transparency.’ Where is transparency when it comes to the companies that manufactured the products with asbestos that ended up in our homes, schools and workplaces?” Durbin said during his opening remarks.
FACT Act Delays Justice for Victims Dying from Asbestos
The bill would require each asbestos bankruptcy trust to release quarterly reports of asbestos claims paid during the reporting into the public domain that would include personally identifiable information of victims and their families.
Sue Vento, wife of U.S. Representative Bruce Vento (D-Minn.) who passed away from mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure, also testified during the hearing on behalf of victims.
“Asbestos patients and families don’t have time on their side,” she said. “Mesothelioma victims are typically racing against the clock to ensure families aren’t burdened with huge medical bills and that they are taken care of. It’s astonishing that, of all the issues Congress could be addressing related to asbestos, you have chosen one that does nothing for victims, but rather one that gives additional tools to the asbestos industry to drag out these cases and escape accountability.”
You can join the growing opposition to the FACT Act by sending a letter to your congressional leaders. Don’t have the time to write one yourself? The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization has set up a letter so you can send one in just minutes by filling out a quick form.
Tell your congressional leaders to stand with asbestos victims. Send your letter today!