Spending bill to address miners' health care, pensions

Spending bill to address miners' health care, pensions
© Aaron Schwartz

Tens of thousands of coal miners will have their health benefits and pensions preserved as part of the year-end government spending deal.

The provision was spearheaded by Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE (D-W.Va.), who last week threatened to block leadership from speeding up any bills until there was a deal to shore up funding for miners' pensions and health care.

“Today we came to an agreement that will finally secure pensions and healthcare for our coal miners and their families. It has been the honor of my life to lead this fight and bring together the coalition that made this possible,” Manchin said in a statement Monday. 

Manchin introduced the Bipartisan American Miners Act earlier this year, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs Biden to deliver remarks in Philadelphia Tuesday on nationwide protests Senate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests Trump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - In reversal, Trump says he won't disband coronavirus task force MORE (R-W.Va.) as co-sponsors. He said the bill secures lifetime health care benefits for the 13,000 miners who would have lost their benefits entirely and 92,000 miners who would have seen their pensions gutted next year without Congressional action.

In the past, Manchin and the United Mine Workers of America have been critical of McConnell for blocking votes to secure the pensions and health benefits. For example, McConnell in 2017 introduced his own bill to provide for miners’ health care benefits, but it did not address pensions.