Two members of the Senate Judiciary committee got into something of a tiff this week during asbestos hearings and one of the Senators was Illinois' own, Dick Durbin. According to Mary Ann Akers, writing in the "Heard on the Hill" section of Roll Call, the spat between Durbin and committee Chairman, Arlen Specter came about after Durbin complained about the witnesses called to testitfy.
"The fight broke out when Durbin complained that the hearing didn't have enough victims testifying about their life-threatening illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos. Instead, Durbin said, "It is a hearing about money." He then went on at length - beyond his allotted time, in fact - decrying the lack of compensation for asbestos victims in the committee bill."
If you know Illinois at all, and if you know Madison and St. Clair Counties at all, you will see the humor in Specter's response to Mr. Durbin.
"Specter, the committee chairman, said he was surprised to hear Durbin complain when the Illinois Democrat could have invited up to three victims to testify."
So just who did Senator Durbin choose to come and testify? Specter continues his remarks to Durbin:
"You chose instead to call Mr. Mark Peterson from the American Trial Lawyers Association, Dr. Philip Landrigan from the American Trial Lawyers Association and Professor Eric Green, also on my sheet marked ATLA," Specter said."
Uh oh. The voices of Madison County, the trial lawyers. So how did Durbin respond? Well, that's where the entire debate broke down and became playground taunting. "We should be spending more time on this bill..."Durbin said. "Don't include at me, we've had forty sessions on the bill and I didn't see you at one of them..."Specter responded. And on and on. Anyway, its good to know our poor old trial lawyers are still on the job...
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