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 ManchinJoe ManchinConvicted ex-coal exec appeals case to Supreme Court Sanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill Overnight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cuts MORE (W.Va.), ranking member Ron WydenRon WydenMnuchin: WH won't double-count economic growth Dem senator: White House stonewalling on important information Overnight Healthcare: CBO fallout | GOP senators distance themselves from House bill | Trump budget chief blasts score | Schumer says House bill belongs 'in the trash' MORE (Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownAuthor of Hillbilly Elegy encouraged to run for Senate: report Overnight Finance: Trump moves to begin NAFTA talks | Dems press Treasury chief on taxes, Dodd-Frank | Biz leaders want tax changes to be permanent Mnuchin mum as Dems press for answers on tax reform, Dodd-Frank MORE (Ohio), Bob CaseyBob CaseyThe case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers GOP senators distance themselves from House ObamaCare repeal bill Dem lawmakers voice shock, outrage on Comey memo MORE (Pa.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerSenate Intel Committee demands Trump campaign to turn over all docs: report Mr. President: Cooperation with Russian investigation is your best play Congress must address student loan debt crisis, a national economic drag MORE (Va.) want panel Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchGOP leaders launch internal review into leak Insurers: GOP should keep pre-existing condition protections DOJ pitches agreements to solve international data warrant woes 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.