By Brian Sewell
Appalachian legislators are again exploring ways to shore up thousands of coal miners’ health and pension benefits after failing to pass a long-term fix last year.
In December, backers of the Miners Protection Act pushed for the legislation to be included in a package to continue funding the federal government. Ultimately, the resolution only included a four-month extension of health care benefits, instead of addressing lifelong pensions and health benefits.
Two bills were introduced in January to provide a permanent fix. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reintroduced the Miners Protection Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) put forward a similar proposal with added language blaming the Obama administration for the coal industry’s decline and calling on Congress to roll back environmental rules.
Manchin described the Miners Protection Act his “No. 1 priority” in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Both Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) have called on President Trump to support the bill before miners’ benefits expire in April.