Senate passes Homeland Security Bill with liability protections

Liability & Insurance Week
Monday, November 25, 2002

The Senate passed the president's homeland security bill Nov. 19 by a vote of 90 to 9 after Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) agreed to revisit liability protections included in the bill for companies that produce vaccines, provide airport security and develop anti-terrorism technologies.
Just before the final vote, after receiving commitments from House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and the White House, Lott said the protections would be revisited in the next Congress.

The concession came when Lott realized he did not have the 51 votes needed to defeat an amendment offered by Democrats to strip the provisions from the bill.

The provisions under attack would retroactively protect pharmaceutical firms from pending lawsuits and give the secretary of the new Homeland Security Department authority to immunize from lawsuit developers of anti-terror technologies.

"This bill appears to be the first shot of a radical pro-business, anti-consumer Congress, which is putting the corporate bottom line before the general good of the public," said Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice & Democracy.

"Our legal system is the last line of defense against corporate abuse. If this bill is any sign of what's to come over the next two years, the American public should be very concerned because their health and safety, and that of their children, are about to be trampled in the name of corporate profits."

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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