Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash), a long time advocate for victims of asbestos-related diseases, celebrated Tuesday as her bill calling for a total ban on asbestos passed through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with a 19-0 vote.

“I’m thrilled that the entire committee has sent a clear and loud message of support, giving us strong momentum heading to the Senate floor,” Murray said. “To the families who have been waiting for help, to the workers who need to be protected, I’d say we’re almost there.”

According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the bill will most likely move to the Senate floor this fall for a final vote. Experts believe it will earn broad support.

On Tuesday, the only contrary word came from Republican Sen. Arlen Specter. His concern wasn’t about Murray’s bill itself but about the broader – and far more complex and politically volatile – question of dealing with thousands of lawsuits from people killed and sickened by asbestos, notes the article.

“An asbestos ban does not solve the problem that has been plaguing our courts for years, forcing many employers into bankruptcy and leaving thousands of workers without compensation,” Specter said. Murray said she listen to Specter’s concerns, but only to a point.

“My bill is moving forward quickly with strong bipartisan support, and we shouldn’t jeopardize this historic opportunity to finally protect American workers and their families from deadly asbestos,” she said.


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