Senate committee to consider miner pension bill

Senate committee to consider miner pension bill
© Greg Nash

A Senate Committee is set to mark-up this week a bill to boost pension funds for coal miners. 

The Senate Finance Committee will consider the Miners Protection Act and the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act on Wednesday, the committee announced Monday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Miners Protection Act, from members who represent large mining populations, is designed to preserve federally guaranteed pension and disability plans for coal industry workers. That program is approaching insolvency due to both the financial crisis and a string of bankruptcies in the coal industry. 

Coal-state lawmakers like Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThis week: Democrats pledge ‘sparks’ in Kavanaugh hearing Congress faces September scramble on spending California passes bill to ban controversial drift net fishing MORE (R-W.Va.), introduced the measure earlier this year, looking to transfer unused money from the Abandoned Land Mine Fund to the pension plan and provide a health insurance backstop for some retired workers. 

Labor groups in the mining industry strongly support the bill, warning that thousands of workers could lose benefits if Congress doesn’t approve the measure.  

The bill has bipartisan support, but it’s moved slowly on Capitol Hill; sponsors took to the Senate floor during a debate over a Puerto Rico bailout bill in June calling for congressional action on the measure, and thousands of miners and allies rallied outside the Capitol earlier this month in support of the bill. 

“I’m pleased [the committee] has finally announced a markup of the Miners Protection Act this Wednesday,” Sen. Joe Manchin tweeted Monday. “This is long overdue.”