The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote on the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, as the bill was placed on the January 7th, 2016 House voting schedule. The bill (H.R. 526), sponsored by Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX), will be paired with The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (H.R. 1927).
If the so-called FACT Act passes the House today, it will – most unfortunately – notch another victory for the greedy puppeteers of Corporate America: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Koch Industries, and the other multi-billionaire members of Big Business who have a vested interest in getting out of compensating sick asbestos victims. If the House passes the FACT Act, it will also mark a devastating loss for U.S. veterans (who make up 30% of all victims of asbestos), injured victims of asbestos, and American consumers across the States. It’s clear, given the bill’s supporters and the rhetoric in the bill’s favor, that such a bill blatantly prioritizes corporate interests, wealth, and greed over the health, safety, and well-being of American citizens.
To be clear: the bill is not only unnecessary, it’s utterly despicable.
Republicans Claim the Bill Will End Fraud, but Is There Any Evidence?
Republican supporters of the FACT Act claim the bill would reduce cases of fraud in asbestos compensation claims and free up asbestos trust money for ‘worthy’ victims. Though it is popular among Republicans to talk about fraud in asbestos litigation and “double-dipping” (claimants receiving compensation from multiple asbestos trusts), evidence of such fraud is limited. In fact, when it comes to the FACT Act, there is little-to-no evidence that any such fraud exists.
In reality, all 19 members of the Republican Party who have pledged their staunch support of the so-called FACT Act have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from corporate entities, such as Koch Industries, Honeywell International, 3M, and DuPont, among others. These are the very businesses who, for years, manufactured asbestos-containing products, and knowingly exposed Americans to the harmful mineral.
For decades now the mineral has been strictly regulated, as it’s been undeniably linked to deadly asbestos-triggered diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
Should the FACT Act Pass, What Are Its Repercussions?
If the FACT Act passes the House, it will keep money in these corporate trusts. Further, the bill would only delay, deny, and outright jeopardize asbestos victims’ ability to receive justice and compensation from the very companies that are responsible for their suffering.
The bill would also force asbestos victims to fill out paperwork that would make their full legal names, dates of birth, work and health histories, and the last 4 digits of their social security numbers easily accessible on the Internet. By making such things public, asbestos victims would not only be jumping through unnecessary hoops, they would also become vulnerable to cybercrime and identity theft. This sensitive personal information would be available to anyone who has an Internet connection.
Such claims of fraud by the bill’s authors are baseless and outrageous, and they are made all the more despicable given that the ultimate victims, when it comes to asbestos, are not corporations who will lose money, but the men and women and their family members who are sick, dying, and suffering from a mineral which should never have been used in the first place.
Stop the FACT Act Right Now before It’s Too Late – It Could Save Lives
As you read this, the FACT Act is being debated on in Congress. It’s likely the bill will see voting in the House either later today or by the end of the day tomorrow, January 8th.
Given that, it’s important – now more than ever – to get the word out and to show – loud and clear – the voices of opposition all across America. In times like these, we must not underestimate the collective voice of the American people, and the power of such things like social media. Write or email your representative and tell them to stop this bill from moving forward. Or, share this article (and others like it) with like-minded individuals, family members, friends, and followers; it could make a major impact – it could even, ultimately, save lives.
With the FACT Act, the endgame is obvious: its supporters want to keep money in the pockets of the nation’s most wealthy corporations – the same corporations funding their re-election bids – and disregard the health of dying victims.
The time to act on this bill is right now. For some people, there may not be a tomorrow.