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) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (W.Va.), ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves Dem senator shares photo praising LeBron James after Laura Ingraham attacks Trump gets recommendation for steep curbs on imported steel, risking trade war MORE (Ohio), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDems hit stock buybacks in tax law fight Dem senator warns Mueller against issuing Russia report near 2018 election Dem praises gay US Olympian who feuded with Pence MORE (Pa.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Mueller indictment reveals sophisticated Russian manipulation effort GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments MORE (Va.) want panel Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves 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.