Senate Passes Bill to Ban Asbestos

Yesterday, the Senate passed the bill sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) proposing a total ban on the importation of asbestos. The bill goes to the House next, and if approved and not vetoed by the President, the United States will become one of more than 40 nations who have banned the toxic, cancer-causing mineral.

According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Murray campaigned for the bill for more than six years. During that time, she visited countless victims of asbestos-related diseases who told her about their struggles or the struggles of their loved ones as they suffered through the painful illnesses caused by this hazardous material. Murray says she met “lots of widows.”

“Her schedule shows more than 100 meetings on issues surrounding the ban with labor leaders, lobbyists, lawyers, industry leaders and physicians — government and civilian — who were tired of watching their patients die deaths that shouldn’t have happened,” the article notes.

Corporations fought her tooth and nail. “When you go after an issue like this, you’re fighting a lot of big-time money. Lobbyists for manufacturers, the sand and gravel folks, people with commercial interest and a lot of clout fought this,” Murray said. “I wasn’t surprised that many other (lawmakers) didn’t want to get involved because they thought it was impossible.”

For the past seven months, Murray said, she worked closely with Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. He convinced Republicans of the importance of the ban, she said. The senator is confident that the bill will become a law.

“The House leadership said it was waiting for us to act, and I expect them to move quickly,” she said. “And, I have not heard a word from the president about vetoing the bill. We worked for months addressing every possible objection and I think the White House would have a very hard time vetoing this.”

She said the ban would be the best thing she has accomplished “because it will save lives. Lots of them.”

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