Asbestos trust fund derailed in the Senate

Remember the titanic struggle erupting in the Senate all of eight days ago, as a landmark bill to create a $140 billion industry-financed trust fund for victims of asbestos-related illnesses moved to the floor for debate? Well, pack up your lawn chair: It’s over. Yesterday, the bill effectively died in a Senate vote of 58 to 41, as bill supporters failed to scrounge up the 60 votes needed to block a procedural challenge (the nature of which we don’t pretend to understand). Strange Senate bedfellows had shacked up to oppose the measure: liberals worried that asbestos victims wouldn’t get sufficient compensation without the right to sue, and fiscal conservatives worried that federal monies would end up supplementing the fund. The defeat has caused dismay in the bipartisan coalition that painstakingly crafted the legislation. It’s not clear if or when it will try to resurrect the fund — or what happens next to help asbestos victims.