Rising somewhat like the Phoenix, an alternative bill that would provide compensation for workers injured by exposure to asbestos clawed its way through Congress in mid-October.Accepting a proposal drafted by Senate Majority Leader William Frist, R-Tenn., and his aides, insurers and defendants accepted a proposal on Oct. 16 to seed a trust fund projected to have enough capacity to settle $115 billion in claims over 27 years.

There are strings attached to the acceptance, and organized labor and Democrats in the Senate must still sign on, but the Frist proposal breathed new life into a deal that had died a thousand deaths since work on it began in a Senate committee in January.

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