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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) ManchinOn The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Progressives grumble but won't sink relief bill over fewer stimulus checks 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 McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed 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.