McConnell backs miners health fix in funding bill
© Greg Nash
 
"I'm in favor of a permanent fix on miners healthcare. It's my hope that that will be included in the final package," McConnell told reporters. 
 
Lawmakers are still negotiating a funding bill ahead of Friday's deadline to avoid a government shutdown. McConnell sidestepped whether or not lawmakers will need to pass a one-week extension to give themselves more time to wrap up the talks. 
 
A group of Rust Belt state lawmakers have been pushing to include an extension of healthcare for thousands of miners and their families in the funding bill. 
 
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Congress included a four-month extension in the current continuing resolution (CR), and without action from lawmakers the healthcare would also expire on Friday. 
 
A spokesman for Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell A bipartisan bridge opens between the House and Senate Collins, Manchin to serve as No Labels co-chairs MORE (D-W.Va.) said earlier this month that they expected healthcare benefits to be included in the government funding bill. 
 
Manchin held up a funding bill late last year and brought the government to the brink of a shutdown, as he and a group of Democrats pushed to get both healthcare and a separate pensions fund included in the bill. 
 
The West Virginia Democrat — who is up for reelection next year in a state carried by Trump — told West Virginia MetroNews that he doesn't expect the pension fund to be addressed in the current negotiations. 
 
He told the local publication that McConnell doesn't "in any way, shape or form [want] to get the pension (benefits) and that’s a shame."
 
“We could fix it all right now and not come back. If not, we’re going to come back and have to work on pensions within a year or two and it’s going to be much more expensive because of the downward spiral we have going on,” he said.

Some Republicans have opposed weighing in on the pension fund, arguing it was a contract between miners and a union, not the federal government.