Asbestos compensation fund bill killed by Senate budget objection Bernard Hibbitts at 7:34 PM ET
[JURIST] US senators late Tuesday failed to overcome an objection effectively killing a bill designed to avoid costly asbestos litigation by creating a special fund to compensate asbestos victims [JURIST news archive]. The objection, raised by Senator John Ensign (R-NV) [official website] and supported by fiscal conservatives [FreedomWorks press release], invoked a budgetary rule barring legislation that would up US government spending by more $5 billion in any of four decades after 2016. Senator Arlen Specter, a co-sponsor of the bill, insisted that the rule did not apply because the monies supporting the fund would come from private companies and would simply be funneled through the government, but Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist said he would withdraw the bill for the current session if those supporting an exception to the budget rule could not muster 60 votes. The vote for an exception was 58-41 [Senate roll call] with 1 senator abstaining.
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