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.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems prep for Mueller report's release McConnell touts Trump support, Supreme Court fights in reelection video Why Ken Cuccinelli should be Trump's choice for DHS MORE (R-Ky.) announced on Tuesday that he is filing legislation that would include a "permanent extension" for retired coal miners and their dependents.
 
"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.

Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOn The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed Pro-life Christians are demanding pollution protections MORE (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore Capito20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall We can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill MORE (R-W.Va.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Hillicon Valley: Trump unveils initiatives to boost 5G | What to know about the Assange case | Pelosi warns tech of 'new era' in regulation | Dem eyes online hate speech bill Warner looking at bills to limit hate speech, have more data portability on social media MORE (D-Va.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Budowsky: 2020 Dems should debate on Fox Overnight Health Care: How 2020 Dems want to overhaul health care | Brooklyn parents sue over measles vaccination mandate | Measles outbreak nears record MORE (D-Ohio), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPro-trade groups enlist another ex-Dem lawmaker to push for Trump's NAFTA replacement Pro-trade group targets 4 lawmakers in push for new NAFTA Biden office highlights support from women after second accuser comes forward MORE (D-N.D.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyLicense to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America More than 30 Senate Dems ask Trump to reconsider Central American aid cuts Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE (D-Pa.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE (D-Mo.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senator wears shirt honoring Otto Warmbier at Korean DMZ On The Money: Conservatives rally behind Moore for Fed | White House interviewing other candidates | Trump, Dems spar on Tax Day | Budget watchdogs bemoan 'debt denialism' The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Ohio), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Democratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Dems ask Justice Dept to release findings of Acosta-Epstein investigation MORE (D-Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySome in GOP fear Buttigieg run for governor Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty GOP senator issues stark warning to Republicans on health care MORE (D-Ind.) reintroduced the Miners Protection Act on Tuesday.

Manchin noted he has gotten assurances from McConnell, President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE and Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceMelania Trump, Karen Pence say they're ready to serve four more years in White House The Turkish rupture could cause a fissure in NATO Buttigieg responds to Pence: 'My problem is when' VP's 'religious beliefs are used as an excuse to harm' 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.