Senators introduce dueling miners bills
© Greg Nash
Senators are rolling out two competing bills to help guarantee healthcare for miners and their families after lawmakers were only able to agree to a short-term patch late last year.
 
 
"I made a commitment at that time to work with my colleagues on a long-term healthcare solution for these retired miners," he said from the Senate floor. “Today, I plan to introduce legislation to protect and permanently extend those benefits."

The benefits are currently scheduled to expire at the end of April after senators include a four-month extension in last year's funding bill.

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McConnell noted that his legislation also "calls on Congress to work with the incoming Trump Administration to repeal regulations that are harming the coal industry and to support economic development efforts in coal country."

But a separate bill, backed by a bipartisan group of senators, would address both healthcare for miners and their families as well as a separate pension fund that is heading toward insolvency.

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Manchin noted he has gotten assurances from McConnell, President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE and Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceScott Atlas: Fauci 'just one person on the task force' Meadows criticizes veteran journalist Lesley Stahl as an 'opinion journalist' Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE that they would work on getting a permanent solution on miners healthcare.

"Our coal miners are some of the hardest working people in America, and they have dedicated their lives to powering this nation and keeping it the strongest in the world," he said in a statement. "We have a responsibility to protect their hard-earned pensions and health benefits." 

Portman added that while lawmakers "made some progress on this effort last year, I was very disappointed that the full Miner’s Protection Act wasn’t included in the year-end spending bill." 

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The end-of-the-year spending bill did not address the pension fund, which has gotten pushback from some GOP lawmakers.