Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (H.R. 1927). If passed, it will go to President Obama for a signature. This mashed-together bill passed through the House a month ago and combines the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act (H.R 526) with The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (H.R. 1927).
The so-called FACT Act will require asbestos trusts to file publicly accessible quarterly reports with the IRS. These reports will include personal information such as the last 4 digits of victims' social security numbers as well as their work and health histories. Not only will sick and dying individuals be opened up to cyber attacks, but they may also be blacklisted by insurance companies, or other organizations.
This bill is especially harmful to veterans, who were exposed to asbestos while in the line of duty. The Veteran's Service Organization (VSO), issued a statement to Congress pointing out that, "this bill only helps companies and manufacturers who knowingly poisoned our honorable men and women who have made sacrifices for our country."
FACT Act Could Pass Senate, but Won’t Get President’s Signature
According to GovTrack.us, H.R. 1927 has only a 21% chance of being enacted into law. Of the 20 members in the Senate Judiciary Committee, 11 are Republican, giving the conservatives a slight majority. That said, 16 Republican representatives already voted against the bill when it was in the U.S. House of Representatives, as did every single democratic house member. The bill is certainly not guaranteed to pass, but it has a chance.
Regardless of what the Senate decides, the Obama Administration has already guaranteed that it will veto the FACT Act. In a statement made to 2 Republican representatives, the administration said H.R. 1927 "needlessly threaten[s] the privacy of asbestos victims" and that it is based on "the false assertion" that fraud is rampant among asbestos trust funds.
The FACT Act Hurts Veterans and Workers of All Types,
H.R. 1927 is opposed by dozens of public advocacy groups like the Alliance for Justice (AFJ) and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). Additionally, 17 Veteran Service Organizations, including American Veterans (AMVETS), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN) are against the bill and all went so far as to write a direct letter of opposition to Congress.
Opposed by U.S. veterans and firefighters nationwide, as well as President Obama and the entire Democratic Party, it’s fair to say that H.R. 1927 has little chance of becoming a law.