Families Affected by Asbestos tell Senators to Stand with Them, not with Asbestos Companies

Too often, when members of Congress and their staffs hear anything about asbestos, they’re hearing it from the corporations that manufactured asbestos and exposed workers or veterans to it. These companies and their lobbying powerhouse, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have been championing a bill, the so-called “FACT Act,” that would delay and deny justice to people sickened by asbestos exposure.

An estimated 12,000-15,000 people are killed by asbestos each year. More are sickened.

Families across the country are affected; veterans disproportionately.

Their stories are powerful. Randy and Carlos, Charles and David. The asbestos corporations probably don’t want their stories heard.

This month, it was time for members of Congress to hear not just from the companies responsible, but from some of the workers and their families who were poisoned by asbestos.

In early February, more than a dozen individuals from across the country who suffer from asbestos disease or have lost a loved one to it traveled to Washington to have their voice heard. They met with their Senators or their Senator’s staff.

Their message was clear: Stand with us, not with the corporations that sickened us. Don’t support the FACT Act.

Just a week earlier, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill. Susan Vento, a Minnesota woman whose husband, former U.S. Representative Bruce Vento, died from asbestos disease, had the opportunity to testify before the committee. She said:

It's astonishing that, of all the issues Congress could be addressing relating 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.    

It is indeed.

But the House of Representatives passed the FACT Act nonetheless, in January. That puts the onus on the Senate to stop this bill.

We’re grateful that so many families who have been impacted by asbestos were able to travel to Washington to tell their stories. Now it’s up to their Senators to say no to this bill.