Senate Finance Dems push for solution on coal miners' benefits

Senate Finance Dems push for solution on coal miners' benefits
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Several Senate Finance Committee Democrats on Wednesday made another effort to protect coal miners' pensions in exchange for clearing the path on the nomination for the nation’s top trade official.

Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (W.Va.), ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Finance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell Brown'Hillbilly Elegy' author won't run for Senate Brown, Portman urge Trump administration to move quickly on a steel decision Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (Ohio), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts Dems offer alternative to Trump administration's child care proposal MORE (Pa.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain Facebook under fire over Russian ads in election MORE (Va.) want panel Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchFinance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea Week ahead in finance: Clock ticking for GOP on tax reform MORE (R-Utah) to agree to attach the coal miners bill to the congressional waiver needed for the nomination of Robert Lighthizer, who has been tapped as the next U.S. Trade Representative.

“We are disappointed Chairman Hatch has not responded to our letter last week or made a commitment to working with us to find a long-term solution to protect these benefits our coal miners earned through a lifetime of hard work,” the senators said.

As of last week, 22,600 miners began receiving letters informing them that their healthcare benefits would be terminated at the end of April, the third notice in the past four months.

"Our miners did everything we asked of them, and it is time that we uphold our end of the bargain and provide them with the permanent benefits they earned through a lifetime of work," the lawmakers wrote. 

Hatch has said he doesn't think Lighthizer's nomination should be contingent upon completing the coal-miner legislation.

Lighthizer will require the House and Senate to pass a waiver before he is approved to head up the USTR because he represented foreign governments in trade negotiations in 1985 and 1991.