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In early May, negotiations over legislation to establish a national asbestos victim compensation trust fund were suspended. The talks, which were mediated by retired Federal Judge Edward Becker, had been initiated by Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle following the failure of a Republican-sponsored bill that would have created a privately financed fund of up to $124 billion. Democrats and labor groups had argued that the bill did not offer enough compensation for victims and would deny them their rights to sue.

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