FURTHERING ASBESTOS CLAIM TRANSPARENCY (FACT) ACT OF 2013.
(House of Representatives - November 13, 2013)

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[Pages H7017-H7029]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




       FURTHERING ASBESTOS CLAIM TRANSPARENCY (FACT) ACT OF 2013.


                             General Leave

  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous materials on H.R. 982, currently under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Virginia?
  There was no objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 403 and rule 
XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House 
on the state of the Union for the consideration of the bill, H.R. 982.
  The Chair appoints the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Bishop) to preside 
over the Committee of the Whole.

                              {time}  1420


                     In the Committee of the Whole

  Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the 
Whole House on the state of the Union for the consideration of the bill 
(H.R. 982) to amend title 11 of the United States Code to require the 
public disclosure by trusts established under section 524(g) of such 
title, of quarterly reports that contain detailed information regarding 
the receipt and disposition of claims for injuries based on exposure to 
asbestos; and for other purposes, with Mr. Bishop of Utah in the chair.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to the rule, the bill is considered read for the 
first time.
  The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte) and the gentleman from 
Michigan (Mr. Conyers) each will control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.

[[Page H7018]]

  I rise today in support of a bill that will help those asbestos 
victims that must look to the bankruptcy process to seek redress for 
their or their loved ones' injuries. Unfortunately, on too frequent an 
occasion, by the time asbestos victims assert their claims for 
compensation, the bankruptcy trusts formed for their benefit have been 
diluted by fraudulent claims, leaving these victims without their 
entitled recovery.
  The reason that fraud is allowed to exist within the asbestos trust 
system is the excessive lack of transparency created by plaintiffs' 
firms. Due to a provision in the Bankruptcy Code, plaintiffs' firms are 
essentially granted a statutory veto right over a debtor's chapter 11 
plan that seeks to restructure asbestos liabilities. Plaintiffs' firms 
have exploited this leverage to prevent information contained within 
the asbestos trusts from seeing the light of day.
  The predictable result from this reduced transparency has been a 
growing wave of claims and reports of fraud. The increase in claims has 
caused many asbestos trusts to reduce the recoveries paid to asbestos 
victims who emerge following the formation of the trusts. For example, 
the T.H. Agriculture and Nutrition asbestos trust cut its recovery rate 
from 100 percent to 70 percent, and the Owens Corning trust sliced its 
recovery rate from 40 percent to 10 percent.
  In addition, instances of fraud within the asbestos trust system have 
been documented in news reports, State court cases, and testimony 
before the Judiciary Committee. The Wall Street Journal conducted an 
investigation into asbestos trusts where it found, among other things, 
that hundreds of plaintiffs filed claims against asbestos trusts 
asserting one injury while simultaneously asserting a completely 
different injury before the State courts.
  Reports directly from many State courts are uncovering similar 
conduct. For example, in Ohio, one judge described a plaintiff's case 
as ``lies upon lies upon lies'' after discovering that the plaintiff 
received hundreds of thousands of dollars from various asbestos 
bankruptcy trusts while alleging in court that a single product caused 
his illness. In Virginia, a judge stated that a similar case over which 
he presided was the ``worst deception'' he had seen in his 22-year 
career.
  The FACT Act, introduced by Congressman Farenthold, will combat this 
fraud by introducing long-needed transparency into the asbestos 
bankruptcy trust system. The FACT Act increases transparency through 
two simple measures. First, it requires the asbestos trusts to file 
quarterly reports on their public bankruptcy dockets. These reports 
will contain very basic information about demands to the trusts and 
payments made by the trusts to claimants. Second, the FACT Act requires 
asbestos trusts to respond to information requests about claims 
asserted against and payments made by the asbestos trusts.
  These measures were carefully designed to increase transparency while 
providing claimants with sufficient privacy protection. To accomplish 
this goal, the bill leverages the privacy protections contained in the 
Bankruptcy Code and includes additional safeguards to preserve 
claimants' privacy.
  A State court judge with 29 years of bench experience described the 
privacy protections within the FACT Act as far stronger than those 
afforded in State court, where asbestos plaintiffs often pursue 
parallel claims. The FACT Act also was deliberately structured to 
minimize the administrative impact on asbestos trusts. Indeed, 
according to testimony before the Judiciary Committee from an expert on 
asbestos litigation and the asbestos trusts, preparing the quarterly 
disclosure requirements would be ``very simple'' and would ``take 
minutes.''
  The FACT Act strikes the appropriate balance between achieving the 
transparency necessary to reduce fraud in an efficient manner and 
providing claimants with sufficient privacy protections. We cannot 
allow fraud to continue reducing recoveries for future asbestos 
victims. The FACT Act is a simple, narrow measure that will shed much-
needed sunshine on a shadowy system.
  I thank Mr. Farenthold for introducing this legislation and urge all 
of my colleagues to vote for the FACT Act.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Members of the House, we are confronted with a very simple 
proposition today. What we have here is a piece of legislation that 
seeks to address a nonexistent problem and is strongly opposed by 
asbestos victims, the trusts charged with administering compensation to 
victims, privacy advocates, consumer groups, labor organizations, and 
legal representatives of future claimants.
  I will point out that I have one of the longest lists of 
organizational opposition that I have seen in a long time, more than 11 
organizations, starting with the Asbestos Cancer Victims' Rights 
Campaign and then going to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, 
the AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers, AFSCME, Public Citizen, the U.S. 
Public Interest Research Group, the Environmental Working Group, the 
Alliance for Justice, the American Association for Justice, and many 
others.
  What we are doing here is beginning this debate by asking who 
actually supports this bill and why are their interests being put ahead 
of asbestos victims.
  To begin with, the bill's reporting and disclosure requirements are 
an assault against asbestos victims' privacy interests. The bill 
mandates that the trusts publicly report information on the claimants 
that could include their name, address, work history, income, medical 
information, exposure history, as well as the basis of any payment that 
the trust made to the claimant.

                              {time}  1430

  Given the fact that all this information would potentially be 
available on the Internet, just imagine what insurance companies, 
potential employers, prospective lenders, and data collectors could do 
with this private information.
  Essentially, what this bill does is allow asbestos victims to be re-
victimized by exposing their health information to the public, 
including those who seek information for illegal purposes.
  And so I ask all of the thoughtful Members of this body to join me in 
strongly and vigorously opposing the measure before us today.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, it is my pleasure to yield 4 minutes to 
the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Bachus), the chairman of the Regulatory 
Reform Subcommittee.
  Mr. BACHUS. I appreciate the chairman yielding.
  Mr. Chairman, I have great respect for Mr. Conyers. He has been my 
chairman and is now my ranking member.
  I, too, see this as a very simple proposition. However, I have a 
different point of view. I believe that sunshine is the best 
disinfectant, and I think that light can expose things that need to be 
exposed; and that is, really, the essence of this bill. This bill is 
about transparency. It is about revealing how much people are being 
paid in a claim.
  America is a country that helps deserving people in their time of 
need, and for that reason, when we had tens of thousands of asbestos 
exposures which caused serious injury and death, a trust fund was 
specifically set up to compensate those individuals whose health had 
been harmed. However, as with almost anything we establish, there are 
those that would take advantage, there are those who would commit 
fraud, there are those who would abuse it. And that is the case here.
  There have been inconsistent claims. Trust fund money has been 
diverted from these victims and from future victims to where it should 
properly go--to those people that truly could demonstrate health needs. 
Instead it went, in many cases, to the undeserved.
  Don't take my word for it. An article published by The Wall Street 
Journal just this past March revealed that nearly half of all trusts 
have reduced payments to new victims at least once since 2010, partly 
in an effort to preserve assets for future victims. The same article 
cited a number of disturbing examples of money being drained from the 
system by waste and fraud--it is not something we made up--leaving less 
to those who truly suffered. We have had judges appear and tell us 
about those problems. We have had others.
  For example, the article disclosed that, after virtually no 
examination

[[Page H7019]]

and no transparency, over $26,000 was awarded to a person who never 
existed. It also found that 2,700 claimants to the Manville Trust 
alone--just one of many trusts--couldn't have been older than 12 years 
of age at the time they said they were exposed to asbestos in an 
industrial job.
  The FACT Act would combat fraud through sunshine by increasing 
transparency and accountability in the system. In doing so, it 
strengthens the asbestos trust fund and system for present and future 
claimants. It would improve information-sharing in the trust fund 
process while fully respecting privacy--and let me stress that--fully 
respecting privacy and protecting confidential medical information, 
which is very important when personal health is involved.
  As we have said many times, sunshine is a disinfectant. I said it at 
the start of the speech, and I will say it now.
  This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that would help asbestos 
victims get the compensation they need and deserve by protecting the 
asbestos trust fund from fraud, waste, and abuse.
  Let me close by commending Mr. Farenthold from Texas and Mr. Matheson 
from Utah for bringing this bipartisan legislation. I urge you to 
support them and others and bring this bill to the floor and pass it to 
increase accountability.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute to thank my good 
friend, Spencer Bachus, a distinguished member of the Judiciary 
Committee, for participating here on the floor with me. I want him to 
know that the privacy part of his remarks are not too relevant at this 
point because this bill allows the name, the disease, and all related 
facts to be published. It can be picked up by the Internet; and so 
assurances of privacy are of little usefulness here.
  I am so glad to know that Mrs. Sue Vento, the widow of our former 
colleague, Bruce Vento, is here with us in the gallery. She has been 
working along with us in strongly opposing H.R. 982.
  Mr. Chairman, I am proud now to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Florida (Mr. Deutch), a distinguished member of the committee.
  Mr. DEUTCH. I thank my friend, Mr. Conyers.
  Mr. Chairman, it is deeply troubling to see that today the House of 
Representatives might vote to pass the so-called FACT Act, or 
Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act. I urge my colleagues to 
vote against this bill because it is not about transparency. It is not 
about accountability. It is absolutely not about justice. The FACT Act 
is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the rights of cancer 
victims and their families. That is the only way I can describe a piece 
of legislation that undermines the constitutional rights of asbestos 
victims and even threatens the privacy of victims and their families.
  The FACT Act does nothing to protect the rights of victims like 
Genevieve Bosilevac, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma just a few 
days before her 48th birthday in 2009, and widows like Judy Van Ness, 
who lost her husband to asbestos-caused disease.
  Victims of mesothelioma do not have the luxury of time. This brutal 
form of cancer is hard to detect until it has progressed significantly 
and all too often already compromised vital internal organs.
  Despite the dire implications of this diagnosis, the FACT Act would 
place additional burdens on victims and even delay court proceedings to 
the point that a victim would die before receiving any financial 
assistance through the asbestos trust fund.
  If anything, this body should be looking at ways to make it easier to 
identify legitimate asbestos victims and fast-track their cases. 
Instead, we are doing the opposite.
  This legislation might as well have been written by the asbestos 
industry because it only provides these companies with new tools to 
evade justice and their responsibility to victims. Even more 
incomprehensibly, the FACT Act would require the asbestos trust fund to 
turn over personally identifying information about victims and even 
their children.
  For the families whose lives have already been torn apart by disease 
from asbestos exposure, this legislation would create an online Web 
site that lists victims' sensitive information, including financial 
histories and even partial Social Security numbers.
  I implore my colleagues to recognize that these families have been 
through enough. There is nothing we in this Chamber can do to fill the 
void that has been left in the hearts of so many Americans who have 
lost loved ones due to exposure.
  The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  Mr. CONYERS. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.
  Mr. DEUTCH. What we can do is ensure that we have a justice system 
that protects the rights of victims and puts the constitutional rights 
of our citizens ahead of special interests.
  I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the FACT Act.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, it is my pleasure to yield 4 minutes to 
the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Farenthold), the author of the 
legislation.
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. Thank you, Chairman Goodlatte.
  Quite frankly, I am personally offended by the claim that this bill 
is against victims. It is for the victims. It is preserving the 
asbestos trusts for those yet undiscovered victims from people who 
would defraud the system.
  This is a simple, short two-page bill. We are asking for no more 
information than you have to supply when you file a lawsuit in any 
court. We are asking for your name and the basis of your claim. We are 
asking that the expenditures be listed of the trust in a method that 
people can check to make sure somebody isn't claiming twice for the 
same injury so we don't have double dippers.
  This is for the victims. We are going to try to stop unscrupulous 
attorneys and folks they rope in from filing false claims. We don't 
want to stop anybody who has a legitimate claim.
  The asbestos trust has been riddled with fraud. It even comes down to 
Corpus Christi, Texas, the district I represent, where there were early 
cases where a Federal judge, Janis Jack, a Clinton-appointee and a 
friend of mine, ruled there was fraud with doctors. The courts are 
dealing with that.
  We are trying to deal with multiple claims and bring simple 
transparency. We are not asking for detailed medical information to be 
released. We are just asking for the basis of the claim, and that is 
pretty simple information.
  We are not asking for Social Security numbers. We are not asking for 
any financial information, other than the amount that is being claimed. 
This is public record in any other lawsuit in the country, and it is 
not an invasion of privacy. It is a protection of the system that was 
set up to compensate victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related 
exposure diseases that don't manifest for years after the exposure. We 
have got to protect this for future generations.
  The FACT Act is a simple, two-page bill that leverages all the 
privacy protections already in the Bankruptcy Code and simply asks that 
we know who is getting what out of these trusts so they can't get them 
from multiple trusts for the same injury or they can't file a claim in 
State court. It is to try to stop double dipping and fraud.
  Unfortunately, when they were set up, there weren't enough safeguards 
in place to run by plaintiffs' attorneys, who get percentages of 
compensation off of that. So we are trying to get this taken care of. 
The plaintiffs' attorneys have a big impact in creating and managing 
these trusts, and we are just trying to get some simple oversight.
  Mr. Bachus put it quite well when he said that sunshine is the best 
disinfectant. We are asking to shine the light of day on these claims 
so we can protect future victims. We don't want to deny anybody who is 
a legitimate claimant what they are entitled to. We want to get them 
compensated and make sure there is enough money there for everyone.
  This is a bill for the victims. It is a bill to stop fraud, waste, 
and abuse.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased now to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentlelady from Houston, Texas, (Ms. Jackson Lee), a member of the 
Judiciary Committee.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me thank the ranking member for yielding.
  Mr. Chairman, with all of the protests, I think there is nothing more 
that we can say other than that it is a

[[Page H7020]]

very cruel decision to move forward this particular legislation. It 
really implodes and violates the process of litigation between 
plaintiffs and defendants, petitioners and those who are in opposition, 
because we have an infrastructure of a court system that allows those 
who participate in that court system to guide the evidence that is 
being presented under the representation of their counsel.
  The Sixth Amendment provides for individuals to have a right to 
counsel, and what this legislation is trying to do is implode that 
relationship and ask for information that could be given in the regular 
order of a court process.
  This is intrusive legislation under the false guise of transparency 
and, in actuality, would invade the privacy of asbestos victims by 
requiring the posting of personal exposure and medical information 
online and erect new barriers to victims receiving compensation for 
their asbestos diseases.
  This cancer-driven disease, this asbestos-driven disease, is a silent 
killer. For a long time, the victims don't even know that they are 
being impacted by asbestos that is causing cancer.
  We have witnessed decades of uncontrolled use of asbestos; and even 
after its hazards became widely known, disease and death still persist 
because people work in it and they do not know. And so they have been 
forced to hire counsel merely to provide for their families or 
themselves in the waning hours and days of their life.
  Hundreds of thousands of workers and family members have been 
exposed, suffered, or died of asbestos-related cancers and lung 
disease; and the toll continues. And yet we have legislation like this 
that wants to clearly undermine the legal system, the justice system, 
which means I go into a court, I have a lawyer, there is someone 
opposed to my position, they have a lawyer, and we submit information 
under the basis of that litigation or that settlement or that 
negotiation.

                              {time}  1445

  Why do Americans have to be subjected to another abuse while they are 
suffering and dying?
  This is an abuse. H.R. 982 is asking for information that can already 
be gotten. As I indicated, these individuals have been exposed, 
suffered, or died from asbestos-related cancer. It is estimated that, 
each year, 10,000 people in the United States are expected to die from 
asbestos-related diseases. How much more of an outrage do we have to 
place on their families--and burdens--to ask them to give information 
about their sicknesses and other issues that are squarely within the 
realm of their counsel? Call up their lawyers and ask for it. This is 
an outrage that they have to deal with this onerous provision.
  Time and again, asbestos victims have faced huge obstacles, 
inconvenient barriers, and veiled but persistent resistance to 
receiving compensation for their diseases. That is why they organized 
in the manner that they did. It is because they were dying, dying, 
dying, and there was no response.
  The CHAIR. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
  Mr. CONYERS. I yield the gentlelady an additional 15 seconds.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. It is particularly galling that many of the major 
asbestos producers refuse to accept responsibility and that most 
declared bankruptcy in an attempt to limit their future liability.
  I ask my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this legislation. How much more 
can we put on these poor victims? If you want information, go to their 
counsel. Go into the courthouse. They will provide it. Let's give them 
relief. I oppose this legislation.
  Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to H.R. 982, the F.A.C.T. Act. 
This intrusive legislation which misuses the word ``transparency,'' 
would invade the privacy of asbestos victims by requiring the posting 
of personal exposure and medical information online and erect new 
barriers to victims receiving compensation for their asbestos diseases.
  We have witnessed decades of uncontrolled use of asbestos, and, even 
after its hazards became widely known, disease and death still persist.
  Hundreds of thousands of workers and family members have been exposed 
to, suffered or died of asbestos-related cancers and lung disease, and 
the toll continues. It is estimated that each year 10,000 people in the 
United States are expected to die from asbestos related diseases. This 
is an outrage--and to add to their misery--they have to deal with the 
onerous provisions of H.R. 982.
  Time and time again, asbestos victims have faced huge obstacles, 
inconvenient barriers, and veiled but persistent resistance to 
receiving compensation for their diseases and it is important to note 
that asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort litigation in 
the United States.
  It is particularly galling that many of the major asbestos producers 
refused to accept responsibility and most declared bankruptcy in an 
attempt to limit their future liability. In 1994 Congress passed 
reasonably balanced special legislation that allowed the asbestos 
companies to set up bankruptcy trusts to compensate asbestos victims 
and reorganize under the bankruptcy law.
  But these trusts don't have adequate funding to provide just 
compensation, and according to a 2010 RAND study, the median payment 
across the trusts is only 25 percent of the claim's value. With 
compensation from these trusts so limited, asbestos victims have sought 
redress from the manufacturers of other asbestos products to which they 
were exposed--the original tortfeasors.
  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as 
OSHA noted two decades ago that
  ``It was aware of no instance in which exposure to a toxic substance 
has more clearly demonstrated detrimental health effects on human than 
has asbestos exposure.''
  We see the harm that asbestos causes when people become sick--
ordinary Americans who did extraordinary things to get this disease--
like go to work every day to support their families.
  And although the proponents of this legislation assert that it is 
intended to protect asbestos victims, I have not heard of a single 
asbestos victim who has expressed support for the H.R. 982, the FACT 
Act.
  As the widow of our former colleague Representative Bruce Vento (D-
MN), who passed away from mesothelioma, stated H.R. 982 ``does not do a 
single thing'' to help asbestos victims and their families.
  H.R. 982 does not help and actually disturbs a reasonably well-
functioning asbestos victim compensation process. Entities facing 
overwhelming mass tort liability for causing asbestos injuries may, 
under certain circumstances, shed these liabilities and financially 
regain their stability in exchange for funding trusts established under 
Chapter II of the Bankruptcy Code to pay the claims of their victims, 
under certain circumstances.
  H.R. 982, however, interferes with this longstanding process in two 
ways. The FACT Act would require these trusts to: (1) file a publicly 
available quarterly report with the bankruptcy court that would include 
personally identifying information about such claimants, including 
their names, exposure history, and basis for any payment made to them; 
and (2) provide any information related to payment from and demands for 
payment from such trust to any party to any action in law or equity 
concerning liability for asbestos exposure.
  I urge my colleagues to vote against this utterly intrusive 
legislation.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, may I ask how much time is remaining on 
both sides.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Virginia has 18\1/2\ minutes remaining, 
and the gentleman from Michigan has 20\1/2\ minutes remaining.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume to respond to the mischaracterization of this legislation as it 
is somehow imposing burdens on the victims of asbestos. In fact, it is 
quite the opposite.
  First of all, the information disclosed under the FACT Act is very 
basic and is less information than would be disclosed during the normal 
course of a State court lawsuit, in which many asbestos bankruptcy 
claimants pursue simultaneous claims, but they don't tell the 
bankruptcy courts about that, so these trusts need to tell them that.
  Secondly, the FACT Act includes strong privacy protections, including 
prohibiting the disclosure of confidential medical records and full 
Social Security numbers. To be clear, the FACT Act does not require 
asbestos trusts to require or to disclose asbestos victims' Social 
Security numbers.
  The FACT Act also leverages existing privacy protections in the 
Bankruptcy Code to give the presiding bankruptcy judge broad discretion 
to prevent the disclosure of information that would result in identity 
theft or in any other unlawful activity. Indeed, a judge with 29 years 
of bench experience testified before the Judiciary Committee that the 
FACT Act provides more protection in terms of the confidentiality of 
asbestos claimants' records than the legal system is able to do.

[[Page H7021]]

  By requiring the disclosure of basic information regarding claims 
submitted to the asbestos trusts, the FACT Act will facilitate a 
reduction in fraud that will allow future asbestos victims to maximize 
their recovery, but they will not be able to do that if we continue to 
have money taken from these trusts for duplicative claims, fraudulent 
claims, and claims without merit.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Atlanta, Georgia, Hank Johnson, and I would indicate his 
very deep concern for asbestos cancer victims.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to H.R. 
982, the so-called FACT Act.
  The FACT Act would require asbestos trusts to publicly disclose 
extensive amounts of private information about asbestos victims on a 
public Web site. These quarterly reports would have to describe each 
demand the trust received, including the name and exposure history of a 
claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust made to such 
claimant. Also required to be publicly disclosed by the trusts are a 
claimant's home address, work history, income, medical information, and 
even the last four digits of a claimant's Social Security number.

  Any person, including every crook in the world with Internet access, 
could use this information for any and all illicit purposes. That 
criminal or mischievous person could be your neighbor. He could be your 
daughter's ex-boyfriend--you know, the one you never liked and barred 
from coming to the house. He could be an employee on the job, somebody 
who is vying for your job. He could be anybody who wants to do harm to 
you or your family.
  It is a serious threat to asbestos victims' security and privacy, and 
it is an unfair and unnecessary advantage bestowed upon the asbestos 
manufacturers. The truth of the matter is that such information is 
available to the tortfeasors during the course of the litigation. 
Federal and/or State Rules of Civil Procedure allow a defendant to gain 
all relevant information during the discovery process about a 
claimant's exposure. Moreover, a defendant's discovery request should 
never justify the publication of a plaintiff's entire medical history.
  Yesterday, I offered an amendment that would have protected the 
privacy of asbestos victims and their families, but, unfortunately, the 
Republicans on the Rules Committee did not allow the House to consider 
my amendment today. It is disappointing that my Republican colleagues 
who pretend that they support Americans' rights to privacy are now 
willing to throw privacy rights under the bus while they stand with Big 
Asbestos and as they again victimize the victims by trampling on the 
privacy rights of those same victims and those families. Without adding 
important privacy safeguards, nothing would stop rampant identity theft 
or the misuse of a claimant victim's personal information, including 
that victim's entire medical history.
  Why is it necessary for a claimant to have to give up his right to 
privacy just because he seeks to recover damages arising from exposure 
to asbestos?
  The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  Mr. CONYERS. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Thank you.
  Asbestos victims who seek compensation for their injuries should 
retain the same privacy protections as other patients, as well as other 
people who make claims for personal injury.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, at this time, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Farenthold).
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. Thank you very much.
  Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a moment to address some claims 
that my friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle have 
made.
  The FACT Act is simple. There are two pages of text to the FACT Act. 
There is no requirement of any action whatsoever by the victims of 
asbestos. The trusts are the only ones that are required to do 
something. Let me just read to you exactly what the requirement is. It 
doesn't include a broad release of personal information. It is very 
simple:

       A trust described in paragraph 2 shall, subject to section 
     107, file with the bankruptcy court not later than 60 days at 
     the end of every quarter a report that shall be made 
     available on the court's public docket with respect to such 
     quarter. It describes each demand the trust has received from 
     a claimant, including the name, exposure history of a 
     claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust made to 
     such claimant, and it does not include any confidential 
     medical record or the claimant's full Social Security number.
  All we are asking for in this bill is that the trusts let us know who 
they are paying the money to and what they are paying it for so we make 
sure people don't double dip so that there is plenty of money there for 
future claimants.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. I yield to the gentleman.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. How do you determine claimants individually 
with that level of information that you just described?
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. It gives you their names and potentially a part of 
their Social Security numbers.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Okay. Thank you.
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. It is not their full Social Security numbers. It is 
not their confidential medical records. It is the basis of their 
claims.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. I yield to the gentleman.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Part of your medical record goes into that 
public file; is that not correct?
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. It is a limited basis of the claim.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. So the gentleman is incorrect.
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. It is not part of the medical record. It is just the 
basis of the claim. It would be simply: claiming mesothelioma from 
exposure at ``this'' location. It is that basic information that would 
allow other courts to determine that the person who is making the claim 
is not double dipping, that he has not already made that claim.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Tennessee, Steve Cohen, a distinguished member of the Judiciary 
Committee.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, there is one fact that is indisputable, and 
that is the procedure by which this particular bill came to the floor. 
It is a procedure whereby the majority had three witnesses and the 
minority had one, and none of the witnesses were victims.
  There are two major asbestos victims' groups. They would be the 
people most interested in preserving the funds for victims--the 
Asbestos Cancer Victims' Rights Campaign and the Asbestos Disease 
Awareness Organization. One is headed up by the widow of a former 
Member of this House, Mrs. Vento. Her husband, Congressman Bruce Vento, 
died of mesothelioma. They oppose this bill, but the fact is, 
indisputably, that they were not allowed to testify.

  If this bill, indeed, were for the victims, the victims should have 
had an opportunity to testify. The chairman of the subcommittee, Mr. 
Bachus, of which I am the ranking member, valiantly tried to rectify 
that error by allowing them to testify, but he was overruled.
  The fact is that the procedure that brought this bill to the floor 
was flawed. Accordingly, I submit that the bill should be flawed 
because the victims should have had the opportunity to speak. If it is 
for the victims, if it is for preserving funds, the people who are 
proponents shouldn't have been afraid of the victims' organizations 
going on record and giving testimony and testifying.
  This whole proceeding today is conceived in an attack on the 
victims--not allowing the victims to speak and not allowing 
transparency in the hearing process. This is allegedly about 
transparency. It is not. It is about covering up and not allowing 
freedom of speech from the people who are most affected--those who had 
loved ones die from mesothelioma.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume to respond to the mischaracterization of the process followed 
in the Judiciary Committee.

[[Page H7022]]

  The FACT Act and the problems it addresses have been the subject of 
three separate hearings: one before the Judiciary Subcommittee on the 
Constitution on September 9, 2011, on the issue generally, and two 
legislative hearings before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory 
Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law--one during the 112th Congress and 
another this year on March 13.
  The minority used these opportunities to call witnesses who were 
representatives from the asbestos plaintiffs' trial bar to voice their 
concerns with the bill. In fact, the minority called the same witness 
for two out of the three hearings. Now they claim that asbestos victims 
were never provided an opportunity to testify. The Judiciary Committee 
provided ample opportunities to include asbestos victims' views on the 
legislation on the record, and there are many letters and statements 
from asbestos victims in the record as a result. Additionally, the 
committee offered a special procedure to asbestos victims in order to 
provide an occasion for the victims to personally inform Members and 
staff of their views, which they refused.
  It has become necessary to act with expediency and move this 
important legislation forward. Each day that passes is a day on which 
fraudulent claims can be prosecuted against the asbestos trusts, 
thereby reducing the recovery to legitimate asbestos victims. This 
legislation will benefit victims by reducing fraudulent claims and by 
ensuring that asbestos trusts provide the maximum recovery to future 
asbestos claimants.
  Mr. COHEN. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. GOODLATTE. I yield to the gentleman from Tennessee.
  Mr. COHEN. Would you explain to me then why the victims were never 
allowed to testify on the record in this Congress and were never given 
an opportunity even though the subcommittee chairman valiantly and 
heroically tried to rectify that?
  Mr. GOODLATTE. In reclaiming my time, that is not accurate. The 
claimants were offered a process by which they could come and speak to 
the members of the committee.
  Mr. COHEN. In private.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I have the time.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Virginia controls the time.

                              {time}  1500

  Mr. GOODLATTE. The minority had the opportunity to have an asbestos 
victim testify if they wished to do so and chose instead to have a 
plaintiff's attorney who had already testified in a previous hearing do 
so.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from 
Tennessee (Mr. Cohen).
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, we had one witness; the majority had three 
witnesses. Ours had to try to explain the legal effects.
  The fact is the proponents of the bill who claim it is for the 
victims should have had the right to have the victims be there. The 
special procedure they had was an in camera hearing not on the record. 
That is not right. If you want to propose something for the victims, 
you give them an opportunity to testify on the record--and they all 
opposed the bill to a one.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I continue to reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
New York (Mr. Jeffries).
  Mr. JEFFRIES. Mr. Chairman, I thank the distinguished ranking member 
for his leadership.
  This bill represents an unjustified corporate giveaway being built on 
the backs of hardworking individuals from all across this country who 
in many cases were unwittingly victimized by asbestos exposure. It is 
an unwarranted, unnecessary, and unconscionable effort to benefit Big 
Business and the asbestos industrial complex, which in many instances 
has unleashed mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other diseases of mass 
destruction on Americans all across this country who are hardworking 
and, in most instances, simply trying to make a living for themselves 
and for their families.
  It is being done allegedly to create greater transparency and in the 
name of litigation reform. Yet the record reflects that there is no 
evidence of systematic fraud, no evidence of systematic waste, no 
evidence of systematic abuse, no evidence of systematic overpayment to 
victims of asbestos exposure.
  This is wrong, it is shameful, it is a bill that is dead on arrival 
in the Senate; and that is why I respectfully urge all of my colleagues 
to vote ``no.''
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to myself to respond to 
the allegation that fraud has not been documented.
  Fraud has been documented in news reports, State court cases, and 
testimony before the Judiciary Committee. The Wall Street Journal 
conducted an investigation that found thousands of disparately filed 
claims. Court documents in many States, including Delaware, Louisiana, 
Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia, attest to widespread 
fraud.
  Additionally, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony over the course 
of three hearings during which witnesses repeatedly testified that 
fraud existed within the asbestos trust bankruptcy system. Keep in mind 
that the fraud reported to date has been in spite of the lack of 
disclosure that currently pervades this system. The increased 
transparency the FACT Act introduces will go a long way in uncovering 
previously undetected fraud and preserving assets for future asbestos 
victims.
  Mr. Chairman, it is my pleasure to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from Illinois (Mr. Davis).
  Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support 
of the FACT Act. This bill aims to address a fraud problem and ensure 
that true asbestos victims obtain maximum recoveries for their 
injuries.
  My district is home to many asbestos lawsuits. Currently, a lack of 
transparency has led to fraud in the asbestos bankruptcy trust system 
and diverted millions of dollars away from those who should have the 
ability to receive these recoveries. This lack of transparency 
discourages a free flow of information resulting in fraudulent claims 
that deplete funds that are intended for legitimate victims.
  This bill requires these trusts to file quarterly reports, which 
include the claimant's name, basis for the claim, payments made, and 
the basis behind those payments. It protects privacy by prohibiting 
disclosure of sensitive medical records and Social Security numbers.
  In order to help ensure future victims will have access to the money 
they deserve, these problems cannot be allowed to continue. This is why 
I stand today in support of the FACT Act.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 1 minute to the 
leader of the Democratic Caucus, Ms. Pelosi.
  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for 
his leadership on so many issues.
  Mr. Chairman, as you know, the debates that we have on the floor of 
the House affect millions of Americans: families, senior citizens, 
veterans, students, and children. We all bring stories of men and women 
and families from our districts--the challenges facing our neighbors, 
the urgent need to solve them.
  Today, we address an issue that takes the lives of thousands of 
Americans each year: asbestos exposure. Yet we do not have to look back 
only to our districts on this scourge; we only need to look into the 
lives of some who have served in this body.
  I am very honored today, as I know some of my colleagues are as well, 
that Susan Vento, wife of our former colleague Bruce Vento who served 
with such distinction in the Congress with some of us some years ago, 
is with us. Bruce Vento was affected by asbestos exposure. It took his 
life.
  I wish to place in the Record Susan Vento's letter, Mr. Chairman, and 
just to say that in the letter Susan says:

       During the consideration of this legislation in the 
     Judiciary Committee, two other women who have been affected 
     by the ravages of asbestos and I requested to have a chance 
     to testify about how the legislation would affect people like 
     us. Our request was denied. To date, not one victim of 
     asbestos exposure or an affected family member has been 
     allowed to be heard on this legislation. The only people who 
     would be directly affected by this bill have been completely 
     shut out of the process.

  It goes on to say the so-called FACT Act--and this letter doesn't say 
``the

[[Page H7023]]

so-called.'' That is my characterization. The letter says:

       The FACT Act drastically erodes the decades of work Bruce 
     and so many of you have invested in helping those who could 
     not help themselves. If this bill passes, it will be a 
     serious setback for Americans who expect their elected 
     representatives to work on their behalf. Instead of helping 
     those who suffer from the diseases caused by asbestos, it 
     will reward those who have perpetuated the diseases.

  I would also like to talk about another of our colleagues who is 
affected by this: Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. Carolyn McCarthy 
serves in this Congress with us. She is a distinguished Congresswoman 
from the State of New York. Congresswoman McCarthy's father and brother 
were career boilermakers. Each night, they brought home asbestos fibers 
in their clothes. Over time, exposure to this asbestos affected 
Congresswoman McCarthy herself. Today, she is battling asbestos-related 
lung cancer.
  Her story is like the stories of countless Americans across the 
country. It is up to us to strengthen the health of those suffering 
from exposure. It is up to us to act in their names, whether they 
suffer from cancer today or face the prospect of severe illness in the 
future.
  Yet the Republican measure we consider today does not meet this 
challenge. Like far too many Republican bills in this Congress, this 
legislation only serves to make matters worse for the American people. 
The so-called--there it is again--the so-called FACT Act actually harms 
the American people--that is a fact--and hinders the ability of 
asbestos victims to obtain compensation.
  How does it do this? This bill would deny cancer victims the 
assistance and simple justice they deserve. It would even delay 
compensation beyond the life of a person suffering from asbestos-
related cancer and illnesses. It would invade the privacy of thousands 
of Americans, and it would pose a particularly detrimental impact on 
veterans of the United States Armed Forces who have been 
disproportionately affected by asbestos.
  Contrary to the claims of the bill's proponents, there is no need for 
this bill. State laws provide for adequate disclosure. There is no 
evidence of systematic fraud in the asbestos trust system.
  In short, this bill is unnecessary, it is mean-spirited and will 
never become the law of the land.
  The Republican majority has little time left on the legislative 
calendar this year: just 13 days between now and December 31, according 
to the schedule they have given us. In that short window, the House 
should focus on the most pressing challenges--priorities like job 
creation, economic growth, comprehensive immigration reform, or deficit 
reduction. Instead, our Republican colleagues have chosen to waste time 
on another message bill to nowhere.
  In the name of Bruce Vento and Congresswoman McCarthy, in the name of 
our friends, family members, and constituents facing the daily 
challenges of asbestos exposure, let's work together on steps to 
strengthen the health of the American people. Let's preserve the 
privacy and well-being of asbestos victims and all American families.
  We can do this by voting ``no'' on this legislation.

Please Oppose H.R. 982, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act 
                               (FACT Act)

                                                November 11, 2013.
       Dear Representative: My name is Susan Vent, and I'm writing 
     to express my strong opposition to H.R. 982, called the 
     Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act). My 
     husband was the late Congressman Bruce F. Vento who served 
     for almost 24 years in the House of Representatives 
     representing Minnesota's Fourth Congressional District. He 
     died from mesothelioma in 2000 within eight months of being 
     diagnosed.
       Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos 
     exposure. Bruce was exposed through his work as a laborer 
     years before we met or became involved in public life. He 
     told his constituency about his diagnosis in early February 
     2000 when he announced why he would not run for re-election. 
     On February 14, he had his lung surgically removed and then 
     began an aggressive treatment regimen at the Mayo Clinic.
       It was not enough. My husband died three days after his 
     60th birthday in October 2010, just eight and one-half months 
     after the diagnosis. With his death, our country lost a hard-
     working and humble public servant years before his time. 
     Bruce's parents, children, grandchildren and I lost so much 
     more.
       Bruce dedicated himself as a tireless and effective 
     advocate for the environment, for working people and for the 
     disadvantaged. During his time in Congress, he was well 
     respected by members of both parties. He served as ranking 
     member and chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on 
     National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and also served on 
     the House Banking Committee.
       During the consideration of this legislation in the 
     Judiciary Committee, two other women who have been affected 
     by the ravages of asbestos and I requested to have a chance 
     to testify about how the legislation would affect people like 
     us. Our request was denied. To date, not one victim of 
     asbestos exposure or an affected family member has been 
     allowed to be heard on the legislation. The only people who 
     would be directly affected by this bill have been completely 
     shut out of the process.
       This legislation is premised on a myth that fraud is a 
     problem in asbestos-related litigation and that transparency 
     must be required of those suffering from asbestos-caused 
     diseases and their families. Such transparency would require 
     mesothelioma patients and their families and others suffering 
     from asbestos-related diseases to divulge personal 
     information on public websites, including portions of their 
     Social Security numbers, information about their personal 
     finances and information about their children. Extensive and 
     reputable research has disproved the fraud claims.
       I find it highly ironic that the asbestos industry is 
     seeking transparency, of all things. If the companies that 
     are pushing this bill really cared about transparency, they 
     wouldn't have concealed what they knew regarding the lethal 
     nature of exposure to asbestos and hundreds of thousands of 
     Americans would not have died from such cruel diseases, 
     including my husband.
       If Congress is striving to be transparent about asbestos, 
     please pass legislation to reduce exposure to asbestos in 
     work-settings, schools, hospitals, and other settings, 
     increase awareness of the risks of asbestos exposure 
     including secondary exposure, and significantly increase 
     federal funding for medical research to fund diagnoses and 
     treatments for mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-
     related diseases.
       The FACT Act drastically erodes the decades of work Bruce 
     and so many of you have invested in helping those who could 
     not help themselves. If this bill passes, it will be a 
     serious step back for Americans who expect their elected 
     representatives to work on their behalf. Instead of helping 
     those who suffer from the diseases caused by asbestos, it 
     will reward those who have perpetuated the diseases.
       I thank you for your consideration. I hope you will stand 
     with me in support of Bruce's memory and in opposition to 
     this bill.
           Sincerely,
                                                      Susan Vento.

  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased now to yield 2 minutes to the 
distinguished gentlelady from Texas (Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson).
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Thank you very much, Mr. 
Chairman, and thank you to the ranking member.
  Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak against H.R. 982.
  This legislation requires that asbestos trusts, which were set up to 
manage a company's asbestos liability exposure, disclose names and 
personal information of any individual who is seeking compensation from 
such trusts.
  The negative health effects associated with asbestos have been under 
investigation since the early 1990s. Premature death, lung cancer, and 
mesothelioma are known effects of asbestos exposure. While asbestos 
industry officials were aware of these negative health impacts since 
the 1930s, it wasn't until the 1970s that evidence emerged that the 
industry concealed these dangers from the public.
  Lawsuits resulted; and in 1973 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 
Fifth Circuit upheld the first successful asbestos liability suit. 
Today, hundreds of thousands of claims have been filed, amounting to 
billions of dollars in damages.
  The key principle behind this legislation is to prevent duplicative 
and fraudulent claims from being filed against companies. However, 
there is zero evidence to support any allegation of endemic fraud in 
the filing of asbestos claims. In fact, in 2011, during an examination 
of asbestos trusts, the Government Accountability Office, the GAO, did 
not find any evidence of such fraud.
  Make no mistake, this bill does nothing to enhance transparency and 
simply increases the burden on the victims who are seeking compensation 
for asbestos exposure and the related side effects. Instead, the FACT 
Act simply makes it more difficult for asbestos victims to receive 
compensation for

[[Page H7024]]

their injuries. The individuals who file asbestos disease claims do so 
in order to receive compensation to pay for medical bills or to make up 
for lost income when they are too sick to work.
  Many others were not as fortunate and ultimately died from the 
consequences of asbestos exposure, leaving family members and friends 
behind.
  The FACT Act not only fails to enhance transparency, but it may also 
expose these victims to added fraud and abuse. This bill would require 
asbestos trusts to publish the claimants' name, address, work history, 
income, and even personal medical information onto the Internet, where 
it can be accessed by people all around the world. This gross invasion 
of privacy could unwittingly expose these victims to identity theft or 
other forms of fraud, while completely failing to enhance the operation 
of these trusts to compensate legitimate victims.
  Mr. Speaker, the FACT Act is a terrible piece of legislation that 
undermines the safety and privacy of many Americans, while giving 
unjustified deference to companies that have wittingly exposed 
individuals to asbestos. Instead of focusing on legislation that 
creates jobs or enhances U.S. competitiveness abroad, House Republicans 
continue to waste our time with poorly crafted bills that have obvious 
ties to industry. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote no on this 
legislation so that we may continue to compensate legitimate victims of 
asbestos exposure.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I continue to reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the 
gentleman from California, Mr. Eric Swalwell.

                              {time}  1515

  Mr. SWALWELL of California. I thank the ranking member for his 
leadership on this issue, and I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 982, 
the FACT Act.
  It is a fact that asbestos can be found in thousands of products and 
locations. It is a fact that asbestos is a deadly carcinogen which 
kills about 10,000 Americans a year. It is a fact that trusts were set 
up so victims could still be compensated even when asbestos companies 
went bankrupt. It is also a fact that there is no evidence of systemic 
fraud or abuse in these asbestos trusts. It is also a fact that H.R. 
982 would put tremendous new administrative burdens on these trusts. It 
is a fact that the result of this bill would make it more difficult for 
victims of asbestos exposure and their families to achieve justice.
  With all of these facts, the evidence is clear: the FACT Act is a 
fact in name only, and instead, what it claims to do is really a 
fiction. It is just another part of the majority's historic and ongoing 
hostility to victims and their attorneys who are trying to achieve 
justice through our courts.
  Instead of working to make it easier for victims to be compensated, 
instead of working on a whole host of other problems facing the 
American people, we are targeting innocent asbestos victims who are 
merely trying to be compensated for a wrong done to them.
  I urge all of my colleagues to reject this misguided legislation.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, we are prepared to close. If the 
gentleman from Michigan is prepared to close as well, I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I am prepared to close. I think the case 
has been made that the asbestos victims do not benefit from this bill, 
that there is no widespread fraud or abuse, that all of the victims and 
their organizations are, in fact, strongly opposed to H.R. 982, and so 
are we. It is for that reason that I urge Members of the House to 
soundly reject this measure.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Chairman, a lot of assertions have been made by the other side of 
the aisle with regard to the FACT Act. Let's make clear what we are 
talking about here.
  This is a bill that in its totality doesn't cover two full pages of 
double-spaced type in legislative language. It simply requires that 
trusts that have been established to preserve the assets of companies 
that have gone bankrupt and have paid funds into these trusts, that 
future claims, future real, legitimate claims, will have resources 
available to them when it is a known fact and established by testimony 
before the Judiciary Committee and by investigations in a number of 
publications, including The Wall Street Journal, and by reports from 
various State courts in more than a half-dozen States, of fraud, 
duplicative claims.
  These are what we are concerned about, and this is simply good 
legislative reform for protection of these assets for future 
availability. Otherwise, these trusts, which are already reducing the 
amount that they can pay to legitimate asbestos victims, will run out 
of money altogether before all of the legitimate claims have been 
addressed.
  That's what the purpose of this legislation is. The opponents of the 
FACT Act have offered creative and far-ranging allegations against a 
measure that only seeks to introduce a modest amount of transparency 
into an opaque system. We know these allegations to be unfounded. The 
allegation that it hurts asbestos victims is unfounded. We know this 
because by increasing transparency and deterring fraud, the FACT Act 
helps asbestos victims by protecting trust funds for future claimants.
  The allegation there is no widespread fraud is unfounded. We know 
this because there has been fraud documented in news reports, State 
court cases, and before the Judiciary Committee.
  I urge my colleagues to reject the unfounded allegations offered 
today by critics of the FACT Act, and vote in support of this simple 
transparency measure.
  I might add, this does not in any way delay the claim of anyone with 
a legitimate claim, either in State courts or in the bankruptcy courts. 
What it will do is it will root out those who are making duplicative 
claims, who are trying to double dip at the same time there are people 
with legitimate claims that will not have any money available to them 
because, as we know, and as was mentioned by many of the speakers here 
today, asbestos is a problem that has affected many, many Americans, 
and it is something that can be latent for a long period of time. We 
want to make sure that those victims who come along at the end of this 
process, who discover late in their lives that they also suffer from 
mesothelioma and related cancers, and other diseases caused by 
asbestos, have the opportunity to recover, not just those who want to 
abuse this system by hiding their claims and not allowing proper 
discovery of duplicative claims and fraudulent claims.
  I urge my colleagues to support this well founded, good legal reform.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 982.
  The average adult takes about 20,000 breaths a day. Most of us don't 
think much about those breaths. But for those living with asbestosis or 
mesothelioma, they think about every one of them. They struggle to 
breathe, they struggle to get medical treatments that are often 
painful, and they struggle financially. And they have struggled for 
decades for justice and some have died before receiving it.
  Asbestos victims and their families have a right to believe that the 
House of Representatives--the people's House--would not put further 
barriers in their way. And that is why H.R. 982 is so disturbing.
  This bill would threaten asbestos victims' privacy by putting their 
personal information on a public website. Exposed to asbestos, they 
would now be exposed to identity theft and fraud.
  The Rand Institute estimates that the median payment to asbestos 
victims is just 25 cents on the dollars--with some as low as 1.1 
percent. Yet, H.R. 982 would divert dollars away from compensation to 
burdensome paperwork requirements that go far beyond current law and 
bypass long-established rules of discovery. Asbestos companies face no 
similar ``transparency'' requirements.
  The proponents of this bill say it is necessary to put victims' 
privacy at risk; delay and lower the payments they need to live because 
of fraud in company trusts--but there is no evidence of fraud.
  This is an unjustifiable bill--and it is a dangerous bill. I urge my 
colleagues to reject it.
  The CHAIR. All time for general debate has expired.
  Pursuant to the rule, the bill shall be considered for amendment 
under the 5-minute rule, and shall be considered as read.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 982

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

[[Page H7025]]

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Furthering Asbestos Claim 
     Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013''.

     SEC. 2. AMENDMENTS.

       Section 524(g) of title 11, United States Code, is amended 
     by adding at the end the following:
       ``(8) A trust described in paragraph (2) shall, subject to 
     section 107--
       ``(A) file with the bankruptcy court, not later than 60 
     days after the end of every quarter, a report that shall be 
     made available on the court's public docket and with respect 
     to such quarter--
       ``(i) describes each demand the trust received from, 
     including the name and exposure history of, a claimant and 
     the basis for any payment from the trust made to such 
     claimant; and
       ``(ii) does not include any confidential medical record or 
     the claimant's full social security number; and
       ``(B) upon written request, and subject to payment 
     (demanded at the option of the trust) for any reasonable cost 
     incurred by the trust to comply with such request, provide in 
     a timely manner any information related to payment from, and 
     demands for payment from, such trust, subject to appropriate 
     protective orders, to any party to any action in law or 
     equity if the subject of such action concerns liability for 
     asbestos exposure.''.

     SEC. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE; APPLICATION OF AMENDMENTS.

       (a) Effective Date.--Except as provided in subsection (b), 
     this Act and the amendments made by this Act shall take 
     effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.
       (b) Application of Amendments.--The amendments made by this 
     Act shall apply with respect to cases commenced under title 
     11 of the United States Code before, on, or after the date of 
     the enactment of this Act.

  The CHAIR. No amendment to the bill is in order except those printed 
in House Report 113-264. Each such amendment may be offered only in the 
order printed in the report, may be offered by a Member designated in 
the report, shall be considered read, shall be debatable for the time 
specified in the report, equally divided and controlled by the 
proponent and an opponent, and shall not be subject to a demand for 
division of the question.


                  Amendment No. 1 Offered by Mr. Cohen

  The CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 1 printed in 
House Report 113-264.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 3, line 9, insert ``that does not have a claims audit 
     program intended to ensure that claims are valid and 
     supported and that is'' after ``trust''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 403, the gentleman from 
Tennessee (Mr. Cohen) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Tennessee.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  My amendment ensures that H.R. 982 will not apply to trusts that have 
an internal claims audit program to ensure that claims are valid and 
supported.
  Proponents of H.R. 982 argue that its reporting and other 
information-sharing requirements are necessary in order to ensure that 
asbestos victims are not committing fraud by recovering money both from 
trusts and through the tort system, thereby ``double dipping.''
  While proponents of the bill have yet to point to any empirical 
evidence of endemic fraud within the asbestos trust claims process, 
H.R. 982, if enacted, will impose unnecessary burdens and costs on 
trusts and will expose claimants' private information to the 
unnecessary risk of inappropriate exposure, exposure that their loved 
ones have already suffered from.
  H.R. 982's additional requirements on trusts will raise their 
administrative costs significantly. Money used to pay these costs 
ultimately means less money to compensate asbestos victims.
  This is particularly problematic in light of the fact that defendants 
can already obtain the information they want using existing discovery 
tools without undermining compensation for legitimate claims.
  The reporting requirements in H.R. 982 also raise privacy concerns. 
This provision requires that a claimant's name and exposure history be 
made part of a bankruptcy court's public docket, meaning that anyone 
can access such information for any purpose, including purposes that 
have nothing to do with compensation for asbestos exposure.
  I recognize that the bill specifically prohibits trusts from making 
public any medical records or full Social Security numbers, although it 
does require the last four digits of the Social Security number to be 
used.
  I also recognize that limited additional privacy protection is 
available under rule 107 of the Bankruptcy Code.
  Nonetheless, these measures are insufficient to fully protect the 
claimant's privacy. As noted by my colleagues, once out in public, such 
information can be used for any purpose. Potential employers, insurance 
companies, lenders, and even those who may seek to harm an asbestos 
victim in some way can have access to this information without the 
victim's permission or knowledge.
  In light of these concerns, and notwithstanding the lack of any 
evidence of systemic fraud, my amendment ensures that to the extent 
that a trust already has measures in place to ferret out potential 
fraudulent claims, it should not have to bear the costs, burdens, and 
privacy risks presented by H.R. 982's requirements.
  If, in fact, proponents of H.R. 982 are primarily concerned about 
potential fraud in the asbestos trust claims process, then they should 
have little trouble supporting this amendment that recognizes processes 
already in place to address fraud while also addressing some of the 
concerns of those who oppose the bill. Accordingly, I ask my colleagues 
to support this amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Virginia is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would exclude asbestos 
trusts that have in place internal audit systems from the requirements 
of the FACT Act.
  There has not been any evidence presented to establish that trusts 
with internal reporting systems are free from fraud. On the contrary, a 
GAO report found that trust audit processes are designed to ensure 
compliance with internal trust procedures, not to remedy the fraud that 
the bill seeks to address. Simply put, internal audits will not be able 
to detect whether disparate claims are filed among several asbestos 
trusts or in the State courts.
  Excluding certain asbestos trusts from the FACT Act would eliminate 
critical sources of information that can facilitate the reduction of 
fraud. Furthermore, the amendment would not address the problem 
presented by plaintiffs who assert inconsistent allegations between the 
State court tort system and the asbestos trusts. I urge my colleagues 
to oppose the amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the 
gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers).
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, the Cohen amendment to limit the bill to 
asbestos trusts that do not have an internal fraud detection system is 
very appropriate. That is because, according to the Government 
Accountability Office, which has studied this and filed a report, they 
have found that in every trust that had an existing internal quality 
control to detect fraud, there was no evidence of systematic fraud 
found, and so I want to compliment the gentleman from Tennessee for 
bringing this to our attention. We think that it makes a better attempt 
at regulating and protecting victims of asbestos, and so I am very 
pleased to support it, and I hope that it becomes part of the bill.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Farenthold), the chief sponsor of the 
legislation.
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment. 
The amendment has nothing to do with the problem we are trying to 
address. Listen, all well-managed trusts, nonprofits, and businesses 
should have an internal audit procedure to detect fraud within that 
organization.
  What we are trying to combat with the FACT Act is fraud between 
organizations, where an unscrupulous attorney or claimant will file 
multiple claims with multiple trusts, or in State court and in Federal 
court, in bankruptcy court, and with the trust. So an

[[Page H7026]]

auditor for one trust is going to have no idea what is going on in 
State court or in other trusts. This is a red herring to get us away 
from the purpose of this bill: to protect victims by preserving the 
funds that have been set aside to compensate victims from waste, fraud, 
and abuse.
  This is a victims' rights bill that the proponent of this amendment, 
I believe, is trying to undermine with an amendment that would exempt 
most trusts because, as I said, any well-run organization ought to have 
internal and external audit procedures in place.

                              {time}  1530

  I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment that undermines the 
purpose of the bill and support the FACT Act.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, I would like to respond.
  The gentleman from Houston mentions this is a ``victims' rights 
bill,'' but all the victims' rights organizations are against it. There 
is something wrong. Something smells, and it is not Denmark.
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. COHEN. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. FARENTHOLD. The point I am trying to make is that the existing 
victims have been compensated, and I am glad they are compensated; but 
there isn't an organization in place for people who don't know they 
have the disease.
  Mr. COHEN. Sure there isn't, because a group that is unknown, they 
don't know who they are.
  The victims' organizations are concerned about victims in the future. 
They have suffered. They project into the future. They want to help 
other people put into their position. They are reaching out in a 
benevolent manner.
  Mr. Vento's widow and her organization and the other organizations 
are against it. They had no voice. The only voice they have is through 
Representatives, and they ask the Representatives to vote ``no.''
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I simply would reiterate that the fact 
of the matter is that when you don't know who future victims are going 
to be and you make a claim that somehow this is going to enrich 
businesses when, in fact, the businesses are bankrupt and they paid 
their money into a fund, that this is in the interest of determining 
what people who have not yet made claims have and in the interest of 
justice in making sure that people who have false claims or duplicative 
claims and are making claims to more than one trust for different 
claims about the same illness or claims in State court, as well as in 
the bankruptcy court, need to be uncovered. That is what this seeks to 
do. If some victims are doing that, that is not a defense to this 
legislation, to say we shouldn't have transparency in the providing of 
benefits to people who have truly been harmed.
  I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and support the 
underlying bill.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Tennessee (Mr. Cohen).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the ayes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from Tennessee will be 
postponed.


                 Amendment No. 2 Offered by Mr. Nadler

  The CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 2 printed in 
House Report 113-264.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 4, beginning on line 5, strike ``if'' and all that 
     follows through ``exposure.'', and insert the following:
     if--
       (i) the subject of such action concerns liability for 
     asbestos exposure; and
       (ii) such party agrees to make available (upon written 
     request) information relevant to such action that pertains to 
     the protection of public health or safety to any other person 
     or to any Federal or State entity that has authority to 
     enforce a law regulating an activity relating to such 
     information.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 403, the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Nadler) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  This amendment would ensure that the transparency the bill's 
supporters demand from the victims of the asbestos industry will also 
be applied to the corporations that have inflicted so much damage and 
so much suffering over the years.
  The amendment would require that a defendant seeking the information 
required by the bill must himself provide information about threats to 
the public safety or health. This information must be provided to any 
other person or to any Federal or State entity that has the authority 
to enforce the law regulating activity relating to such information.
  This would go a long way to addressing the longstanding efforts by 
these corporations to conceal the facts surrounding their actions from 
the public, from their victims, and from government agencies charged 
with enforcing health and safety laws.
  Too often, cases are settled specifically in order to prevent 
evidence of wrongdoing from becoming public. More importantly, because 
of the secrecy of these settlements, other people who have been injured 
have no way of gaining important information about their exposure, 
their illnesses, or the settled liability of the companies that made 
them sick.
  Information about the concealment of wrongdoing never becomes public, 
and the people who have suffered have no way of knowing about the 
wrongdoing that caused their suffering or its extent. Governmental 
agencies that are charged with protecting the public health, whether in 
the workplace or the home, are deprived of the information they need to 
enforce the laws we have enacted.
  If the sponsors of this legislation really mean what they say about 
the need for transparency and accountability, they will support this 
amendment. There has been too long a record over too many decades of 
concealment, disassembly, and lawlessness, and too many lives destroyed 
because of that illegal conduct for us to tolerate the continued 
coverup. This amendment will go a long way toward remedying that 
situation and toward correcting the unjust imbalance in the current 
system.
  Without this amendment and the openness and clarity it would provide, 
this bill would favor only those who inflicted the harm and would give 
them yet another advantage over the victims. We should stand with the 
people whose lives have been destroyed, not with the corporations whose 
illegal and immoral conduct destroyed those lives.
  This amendment would prevent a situation where as part of a 
settlement compensating a victim it is agreed to keep key information 
relevant to the public health and safety secret so that more people 
will not be victimized.
  When such terms of the settlement are kept secret, other people will 
not learn that a given product contains asbestos or that a given 
product leaked asbestos and, therefore, will not know that they 
potentially were harmed, and government agencies may not learn facts 
necessary to exercise their responsibility to protect the public.
  At the very least, we should be evenhanded and demand of the 
wrongdoers the same transparency that this bill demands of their 
victims, a transparency which will enable other victims to understand 
their remedies and will enable government agencies to better enforce 
the law. Unless you want to assist tortfeasors and wrongdoers in 
concealing the effects of their wrongdoing, you should support this 
amendment.
  I urge my colleagues to vote for the amendment, and I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Virginia is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, one of the principal issues discussed 
over the course of three separate hearings before the Judiciary 
Committee was the existing impediments to information contained in the 
asbestos trusts.

[[Page H7027]]

In particular, these impediments include obstacles that asbestos trusts 
institute against the prosecution of valid State court subpoenas for 
trust information.
  The FACT Act addresses these issues by requiring affirmative, minimal 
disclosures from asbestos trusts and allowing for access to additional 
information at the cost of the requesting party. The amendment does not 
address these underlying problems and instead places broad additional 
burdens on defendants seeking to prosecute discovery requests in State 
courts. Specifically, it requires defendants potentially to comply with 
a host of unrelated requests from unknown parties. These defendants 
include small businesses that played a very minor role, if any, in 
asbestos manufacturing, but are the last wave of companies in the 
plaintiffs' firms never-ending search for a solvent defendant.
  The burden this amendment imposes on a defendant is highly atypical, 
unnecessary, and would unduly impair a party's ability to assert a 
defense. The FACT Act, by contrast, provides transparency where 
previously it did not and provides defendants with the same access to 
information as plaintiffs. The legislation merely levels the playing 
field so all parties, including other asbestos trusts and State court 
judges, have access to the same information.
  I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment, and I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, how much time do I have?
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from New York has 2 minutes remaining.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds.
  In reply to the gentleman from Virginia, the amendment refers to 
``such party agrees to make available information.'' Such party is 
asbestos trusts, not a small business. So I don't know what he is 
talking about with small business requirements being imposed by this 
amendment, and the amendment deals with information that the trust must 
make available. It does not deal with the underlying burdens that the 
bill places on victims, which is what the gentleman was referring to. 
This has nothing to do with small business.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. 
Conyers), the distinguished ranking member of the committee.
  Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Mr. Nadler, for your very important 
amendment.
  As has been reported by the Fifth Circuit in the First Appellate 
opinion upholding the product liability against a manufacturer of 
asbestos-containing products, the Government Accountability Office 
reported:

       In the course of the first successful personal injury 
     lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers, the plaintiffs' 
     attorney introduced evidence that these manufacturers had 
     known but concealed information about the dangers of asbestos 
     exposure, or that such dangers were reasonably foreseeable. 
     And in the nearly four decades since, litigation over 
     personal injuries resulting from exposure to asbestos has 
     resulted in hundreds of thousands of claims filed and 
     billions of dollars of compensation paid.

  I urge support of the Nadler amendment.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  The underlying bill imposes burdens on victims of asbestos poisoning 
because of an unsubstantiated allegation that the trusts, set up by the 
tortfeasors, by the giant corporations that caused the problem, may be 
suffering some fraud, although there is no specific about that.
  The amendment simply says that if we are going to request information 
of the victims, we should request minimally that the representatives of 
the tortfeasors, the trusts, tell us the information that will prevent 
further people from being harmed.
  I urge support of the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  The FACT Act does not impose burdens on the victims of asbestos. It 
imposes a minimal disclosure requirement upon the trust, a disclosure 
requirement that will benefit both plaintiffs and defendants in various 
courts litigating asbestos claims.
  Therefore, these new burdens that would be imposed by the defendant, 
which are substantial and onerous burdens, not the minimal 
informational disclosure that would help to identify duplicative claims 
in various courts, is a massive additional burden added to this 
legislation.
  For that reason, I oppose the legislation, oppose the amendment, and 
urge my colleagues to join me opposing the amendment and supporting the 
underlying legislation.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from New York (Mr. Nadler).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York will be postponed.


               Amendment No. 3 Offered by Ms. Jackson Lee

  The CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 3 printed in 
House Report 113-264.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Beginning on page 3, strike line 9 and all that follows 
     through line 6 on page 4, and insert the following:
       ``(8)(A) A trust described in paragraph (2) shall, subject 
     to subsection (B) and section 107, provide upon written 
     request and subject to payment (demanded at the option of the 
     trust) for any reasonable cost incurred by the trust to 
     comply with such request, to any party that is a defendant in 
     a pending court action relating to asbestos exposure, 
     information that is directly relates to the plaintiff's claim 
     in such action.
       ``(B) A defendant requesting information under subparagraph 
     (A) shall first disclose to such plaintiff and such trust, 
     subject to an appropriate protective order--
       ``(i) the name of each asbestos-containing product mined, 
     manufactured, sold, or purchased by the defendant at any 
     point in time and the name and location of each worksite 
     under such defendant's control at any point in time at which 
     such asbestos was mined or such product was manufactured; and
       ``(ii) each location at which such product was sold or 
     purchased by such defendant;

     except that such information shall not include any 
     information that is a trade secret.''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 403, the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Texas.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, we are here today for several reasons, 
and my friends on the other side of the aisle have their high calling 
and reasons of great merit that they argue, but I think we have a more 
devastating and prevailing reason that we are opposed to this 
legislation.
  Frankly, as I indicated earlier in my remarks, there are thousands 
and thousands of asbestos victims who are suffering from lung disease 
or cancer. Many of them were diagnosed late. Many of them, 
unfortunately, have passed. Their families are still victims. They have 
lost everything that they have had in trying to treat them, and now we 
add what we are used to saying in the community: insult to injury.
  We come with an enormously burdensome and unfair initiative. So today 
I rise to introduce an amendment that I ask my colleagues on both sides 
of the aisle to consider because it is fair.
  The amendment would apply the transparency rules that they are 
seeking from those victims who are barely receiving dollars out of a 
trust that is the final result of numbers of bankrupt companies. We are 
asking to equally apply these transparency rules to asbestos industry 
defendants by requiring asbestos companies to report information about 
the location of their asbestos-containing products; and the amendment, 
out of respect for trade secrets, will exempt that.

                              {time}  1545

  So today we are asking for transparency on both sides. H.R. 982 is 
one-sided in that it maintains the rights of asbestos defendants to 
demand confidentiality of settlements and protects an asbestos 
defendant's right to continue to hide the dangers of their asbestos 
products from asbestos victims and the American public. A typical 
asbestos defendant who settles a case in

[[Page H7028]]

the tort system demands the utmost confidentiality along with the right 
to file for bankruptcy as a condition of the settlement in order to 
ensure that other victims cannot learn how much they paid or for which 
asbestos products the defendant is paying compensation.
  By no means do we want to help those who are hurting. We certainly 
don't want to give them a leg up by understanding what the process of 
compensation is.
  These same defendants now, under this particular bill, want the 
victims to disclose specific settlement amounts with the trusts along 
with product exposure information and work history. How unfair is that? 
On my dying bed, I have to offer and find a basis of giving you a 
settlement, or my family has to give it to you in the midst of our 
crisis.
  The asbestos health crisis is the result of a massive cover-up; 
therefore, we are asking today for simple fairness. If there is 
confidentiality on the defendant's part and they ask for information on 
those who are suffering, then I believe, minimally, defendants can give 
information about the location of the asbestos-containing products to 
ensure that our victims are not exposed any longer.
  Furthermore, the trust information is already public, and I would ask 
why this bill is even necessary. And then the further point of 
controversy is that this bill seeks to override State law regarding 
discovery disclosure of information.
  So I am asking my colleagues to be fair, to recognize the hurt and 
the pain, and to support the Jackson Lee amendment, which simply asks 
for those defendants, those companies, to give us the location of the 
asbestos-containing products.
  Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Jackson Lee amendment which 
would require the Asbestos Industry to Report Information about 
Dangerous Asbestos Products.


                      What does the Amendment do?

  The Amendment would apply the transparency rules in the bill equally 
to asbestos industry defendants by requiring asbestos companies to 
report information about the location of their asbestos-containing 
products. And the amendment includes a ``trade secrets'' exception.


                       WHY SUPPORT THE AMENDMENT?

  H.R. 982 is one-sided in that it maintains the rights of asbestos 
defendants to demand confidentiality of settlements and protects an 
asbestos defendant's right to continue to hide the dangers of their 
asbestos products from asbestos victims and the American public. A 
typical asbestos defendant who settles a case in the tort system 
demands confidentiality as a condition of settlement in order to ensure 
that other victims cannot learn how much they paid or for which 
asbestos products the defendant is paying compensation. These same 
defendants now want the victims to disclose specific settlement amounts 
with the trusts, along with product exposure information and work 
history, that they do not themselves provide nor would have provided 
before the trusts were created. If transparency were the true goal of 
this bill, then why doesn't the bill require settling defendants to 
reveal information important to public safety and health?
  The asbestos health crisis is the result of a massive corporate 
cover-up. For decades, asbestos companies knew about the dangers of 
asbestos and failed to warn or adequately protect workers and their 
families. ``The 1966 comments of the Director of Purchasing for Bendix 
Corporation, now a part of Honeywell, capture the complete disregard of 
an industry for its workforce that is expressed over and over again in 
company documents spanning the past 60 years. `. . . if you have 
enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products, why not die 
from it?' ''
  Now, the same industry responsible for causing this crisis is asking 
Congress to protect them from liability. If such a bill is going to 
pass the U.S. House, the bill should at least force asbestos defendants 
to reveal information about their asbestos products, where they are in 
use, and how many Americans continue to be exposed to those products.
  Trust information is already public. Trusts already disclose far more 
information than solvent defendants do about their settlement practices 
and amounts--the settlement criteria used by a trust and the offer the 
trust will make if the criteria are met are publicly available in the 
Trust Distribution Procedures (``TDP'') for that trust. Trusts also 
file annual reports with the Bankruptcy courts and publish lists of the 
products for which they have assumed responsibility. If asbestos 
victims are going to be forced to reveal private medical and work 
history information in a public forum, to the very industry that caused 
their harm, asbestos defendants should at least be required to reveal 
which of their products contain asbestos and how many people are being 
exposed.
  The bill seeks to override state law regarding discovery/disclosure 
of information. State discovery rules currently govern disclosure of a 
trust claimant's work and exposure history. If such information is 
relevant to a state law claim, a defendant can seek and get that 
information according to the rules of a state court.
  What a defendant cannot do, and what this bill would allow, is for a 
defendant to engage in fishing expeditions for irrelevant information 
which has no use other than to delay a claim for as long as possible. 
Thus, the bill must be amended to only apply to defendants willing to 
reveal important information about their asbestos-containing products.
  Lastly, let me add that the asbestos defendants would not be required 
to disclose trade secrets under the amendment. The asbestos defendants 
would only be required to disclose information about which of their 
products contain asbestos, where they are in use, and how many people 
are being exposed. The amendment would not force asbestos defendants to 
reveal industry trade secrets or place them at a competitive 
disadvantage in the marketplace. Instead, this amendment ensures 
transparency from both the asbestos victims and asbestos defendants 
since transparency is the stated goal of the bill.
  I urge my colleagues to Support the Jackson Lee Amendment.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Virginia is recognized for 5 minutes
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, the FACT Act addresses a number of 
issues, including State court litigants' inability to obtain 
information from federally-supervised asbestos trusts and the general 
lack of disclosure that is allowing fraud to be committed against these 
trusts. The FACT Act addresses these problems by introducing 
transparency into the asbestos bankruptcy trust system.
  The amendment dramatically undercuts the transparency provided under 
the bill by completely eliminating the quarterly reporting 
requirements. This removes an important and efficient disclosure 
component provided by the FACT Act and would eliminate sister asbestos 
trusts' access to information that is critical for the defense against 
fraudulent claims. Additionally, the amendment would place disclosure 
requirements on the State court party requesting information from the 
asbestos trusts. These disclosure requirements are unnecessary, 
unusual, and would severely constrain a party's availability to defend 
itself in State court litigation.
  Plaintiffs and plaintiffs' firms already have the ability to gain 
access to the defendant's information through the traditional discovery 
process; however, it is the defendant's inability to gain access to 
information submitted to the asbestos trusts that has created an 
environment that is conducive to fraud. The FACT Act merely levels the 
playing field so all parties, including other asbestos trusts, State 
court litigants, and State court judges have access to this information 
and the same information.
  I would point out that, when one brings a lawsuit seeking damages 
from another entity that they make a party to that lawsuit, they are 
not entitled to anonymity in doing so. The purpose of the complaint, 
the initial pleading filed in the lawsuit, is to disclose who it is 
that is seeking the damages and what damages they are seeking.
  All we are asking for in this legislation is that trusts that have 
been entrusted with funds that are to be made available for the 
exclusive purpose of helping the victims of asbestos problems have the 
opportunity to have information that they would have if it were a 
normal plaintiff's filing in a lawsuit. That is what we seek to have 
disclosed.
  I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and to support the 
underlying bill.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, how much time is remaining?
  The CHAIR. The gentlewoman from Texas has 1\1/2\ minutes remaining.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. And the gentleman from Virginia?
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Virginia has 2\1/2\ minutes remaining.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I yield 45 seconds to the gentleman 
from

[[Page H7029]]

the great State of Michigan (Mr. Conyers).
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I wanted to commend the creative inquiry 
of the gentlelady from Texas in examining this measure to make it clear 
to us, through her amendment, that this places disclosure burdens on 
trusts and asbestos victims but not on the corporations, and that is 
what she seeks to deal with. So this bill helps this be accomplished. 
And what is so critical about it is that we now have a more balanced 
approach than is currently in the bill. So please support the Jackson 
Lee amendment.
  I thank the gentlelady for yielding.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the distinguished gentleman for his 
important remarks.
  Mr. Chairman, let me quickly say, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Ranking Member, 
you were superbly right. The plaintiffs in litigation have had their 
right of exchange of information. What our friends are trying to do on 
the other side of the aisle is to make the trusts, now, a courtroom 
where information is dragged out of the victim, but it is not asked for 
from the defendants, the ones who have filed for bankruptcy, the ones 
who have left the victims to suffer and to fend for themselves.
  I ask my colleagues to make this fair and require the asbestos 
company to give us where the asbestos-remaining products are so that we 
can save lives. If there is transparency, if the FACT bill would be 
fair, they would then have information coming from both parties, not 
only the victims, the plaintiffs, but they would have it coming from 
the asbestos companies that have driven up the numbers of those 
suffering from lung disease and cancer.
  I ask my colleagues to support the Jackson Lee amendment.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
          American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial 
                                                    Organizations,
                                Washington, DC, November 12, 2013.
       Dear Representative: I am writing to express the strong 
     opposition of the AFL-CIO to H.R. 982, the ``Furthering 
     Asbestos Claim Transparency Act'' (FACT Act). This 
     legislation would invade the privacy of asbestos victims by 
     posting personal exposure and medical information online and 
     create new barriers to victims receiving compensation for 
     their asbestos diseases. The AFL-CIO urges you to oppose this 
     harmful bill.
       Decades of uncontrolled use of asbestos, even after its 
     hazards were known, have resulted in a legacy of disease and 
     death. Hundreds of thousands of workers and family members 
     have suffered or died of asbestos-related cancers and lung 
     disease, and the toll continues. Each year an estimated 
     10,000 people in the United States are expected to die from 
     asbestos related diseases.
       Asbestos victims have faced huge barriers and obstacles to 
     receiving compensation for their diseases. Major asbestos 
     producers refused to accept responsibility and most declared 
     bankruptcy in an attempt to limit their future liability. In 
     1994 Congress passed special legislation that allowed the 
     asbestos companies to set up bankruptcy trusts to compensate 
     asbestos victims and reorganize under the bankruptcy law. But 
     these trusts don't have adequate funding to provide just 
     compensation, and according to a 2010 RAND study, the median 
     payment across the trusts is only 25 percent of the claim's 
     value. With compensation from these trusts so limited, 
     asbestos victims have sought redress from the manufacturers 
     of other asbestos products to which they were exposed.
       The AFL-CIO is well aware that the system for compensating 
     asbestos disease victims has had its share of problems, with 
     victims facing delays and inadequate compensation and too 
     much money being spent on defendant and plaintiff lawyers. We 
     have spent years of effort trying to seek solutions to make 
     the asbestos compensation system fairer and more effective. 
     But H.R. 982 does nothing to improve compensation for 
     asbestos victims and would in fact make the situation even 
     worse. In our view, the bill is simply an effort by asbestos 
     manufacturers who still are subject to asbestos lawsuits to 
     avoid liability for diseases caused by exposure to their 
     products.
       H.R. 982 would require personally identifiable exposure 
     histories and disease information for each asbestos victim 
     filing a claim with an asbestos trust, and related payment 
     information, to be posted on a public docket. This public 
     posting is an extreme invasion of privacy. It would give 
     unfettered access to employers, insurance companies, workers 
     compensation carriers and others who could use this 
     information for any purpose including blacklisting workers 
     from employment and fighting compensation claims.
       The bill would also require asbestos trusts to provide on 
     demand to asbestos defendants and litigants any information 
     related to payments made by and claims filed with the trusts. 
     This would place unnecessary and added burdens on the trusts, 
     delaying much-needed compensation for asbestos victims. Such 
     a provision allows asbestos defendants to bypass the 
     established rules of discovery in the civil justice system, 
     and provides broad, unrestricted access to personal 
     information with no limitations on its use.
       Congress should be helping the hundreds of thousands of 
     individuals who are suffering from disabling and deadly 
     asbestos diseases, not further victimizing them by invading 
     their privacy and subjecting them to potential blacklisting 
     and discrimination. The AFL-CIO strongly urges you to oppose 
     H.R. 982.
           Sincerely,

                                               William Samuel,

                                                         Director,
                                    Government Affairs Department.

  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of the time 
in opposition to the amendment.
  I just have to say that this amendment goes well beyond the scope of 
this legislation in terms of what it would do in terms of discovery in 
State courts and gathering various types of information that is already 
readily and easily discoverable in those proceedings, including, if 
necessary, in the bankruptcy court.
  What it doesn't get at, and the FACT Act does, is information that is 
not otherwise available to all of the parties to all of those 
proceedings to determine whether there are duplicative claims, whether 
there are fraudulent claims, whether there are claims where one party 
is claiming to have the same disease caused by two different places of 
employment or having claimed the same disease caused by two different 
instrumentalities in two different places. That is what we need to 
know. That is why the FACT Act is necessary.
  I oppose the amendment, urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Texas will be postponed.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee do now rise.
  The motion was agreed to.
  Accordingly, the Committee rose; and the Speaker pro tempore (Mr. 
Farenthold) having assumed the chair, Mr. Bishop of Utah, Chair of the 
Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, reported that 
that Committee, having had under consideration the bill (H.R. 982) to 
amend title 11 of the United States Code to require the public 
disclosure by trusts established under section 524(g) of such title, of 
quarterly reports that contain detailed information regarding the 
receipt and disposition of claims for injuries based on exposure to 
asbestos; and for other purposes, had come to no resolution thereon.

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