Wednesday: Asbestos in the House

The House meets in the afternoon to consider legislation aimed at reducing fraudulent claims for compensation due to exposure to asbestos.

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, H.R. 982, would require asbestos trusts around the country to report each quarter on who has applied for and received compensation. Sixty trusts have been established over the years — they can be set up by companies facing bankruptcy due to asbestos litigation, and allow companies emerging from bankruptcy to avoid further liability.

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Supporters of the GOP bill say a reporting requirement is needed to ensure people don't try to double dip these trusts or otherwise file fraudulent claims.

Democratic opponents are expected to argue that the bill would open the door to including claimants' private information in these reports. The Obama administration opposes the bill for the same reason.

"The bill's mandatory reporting and disclosure requirements would threaten asbestos victims' privacy when they seek payment for injuries from an asbestos bankruptcy trust," the White House said in a Tuesday Statement of Administration Policy.

"Claimants' sensitive personal information — including their names and exposure histories — would be irretrievably released into the public domain and thus available to parties unrelated to the claims (including insurance companies, prospective employers, lenders, and data collectors)," the statement said.

Other opponents say the bill is even worse than that and would serve to slow down people's access to compensation.

The House will start by debating the rule for the bill, which allows three Democratic amendments to be considered. Then it will debate the bill itself and the amendments, and vote on the bill by the early evening.

The House is also expected to consider a motion to instruct House conferees to the farm bill. Among other things, the motion from Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) would require the House to accept Senate language that extends federal nutrition programs for five years, not the three years the House approved.

Republicans decided to split the commodity and nutrition titles of the farm bill into separate legislation this year. They also authorized them for different lengths of time — five years for the commodity language and three years for the nutrition title, which includes federal food stamps.

Many Democrats opposed this split and will be looking to tie the two titles back together and give them a common expiration date.

The Senate starts at 10 a.m., and senators will break in the afternoon for caucus lunches. Those lunches normally take place on Tuesday, but they were moved to Wednesday because of the Veterans Day holiday on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted to end debate on a motion to proceed to H.R. 3204, the Drug Quality and Security Act, and the Senate is expected to spend much of the week on this bill. The House-passed legislation is meant to help improve the traceability of drugs throughout the U.S. supply chain.