[JURIST] US Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) [official website] and 14 other Republican senators have introduced a proposal that would rewrite an asbestos bill to allow asbestos-related lawsuits only under strict medical criteria, rather than establishing a $140 billion fund [JURIST report] for all victims. Cornyn introduced the plan as an amendment to the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act [PDF text; bill summary], which is currently being debated in the Senate [JURIST report]. The original version, sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website], would require asbestos companies and insurers to provide a fund for asbestos-related lawsuits, but the proposal does not have widespread support.
Senators from both parties have voiced concerns that the fund may quickly run dry unless strict medical criteria for lawsuits is imposed and the White House has expressed 'serious concerns' [PDF statement; JURIST report] over parts of the bill. The Coalition for Asbestos Reform [advocacy website], an interest group concerned with fair asbestos litigation, has urged Senators to vote for Cornyn's amendment [press release] calling Specter and Leahy's trust fund approach "fatally flawed." Reuters has more.