In a hearing March 13, attorney and former judge Peggy L. Ableman testified in support of the legislation, saying that those who claim harm from contact with asbestos could collect damages from trusts established by bankrupt companies, while also suing other businesses by submitting alternating information about their exposure.
During the scheduled vote to move the legislation forward on Wednesday, Democrats expressed concern that the actual asbestos sufferers – including the widows of two victims – never had a chance to testify, despite being highlighted as part of the audience by Bachus in the last hearing.
On Tuesday night, the three women who had been invited to the earlier hearing – but not asked to testify – sent a letter to House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law leadership after learning the bill was quickly going forward without them.
“You claim that this bill is about victims. Yet, despite holding several hearings since the FACT Act was first introduced last Congress, you have never heard from a single victim of asbestos exposure,” they said in the letter obtained by The Hill. “We felt like the ‘invisible people’ in that hearing room last week. Everybody talked about us, but it was starkly clear that our views … are irrelevant and unnecessary in this process.”
This post was updated at 4:10 p.m.