ICYMI: Miners Pension and Healthcare Fix Signed into Law

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Washington, December 23, 2019 | comments
On Friday, President Trump signed the year-end spending bill into law. The spending bill included a provision to save threated pension and healthcare benefits similar to the bipartisan legislation that McKinley introduced.

“Over the years, we have worked to keep this issue front and center. So much hard work has gone into getting this legislation signed into law. We have worked hand in hand with retired miners and their families, to make sure Congress understood what was really at risk,” McKinley said. “More than 100,000 retirees, widows, and families have been provided the peace of mind they deserve. After years of bipartisan effort that I have been proud to lead in the House, we can finally say we kept our promise."

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Here is a wrap up of media coverage:

The Wheeling Intelligencer: Keeping Faith with Miners— “Santa Claus may be coming early to thousands of men and women who provided more than a few lumps of coal to millions of their fellow Americans. The near-collapse of the U.S. coal industry — partly as a result of federal government action — has left as many as 100,000 retired miners and their families in dire straits. For many years, their pension system, operated through the United Mine Workers of America, was supported by payments from coal companies. But those payments were based on tonnages of coal mined, and those numbers have plummeted during recent years.”

The Exponent Telegram: A 'unique' approach solves miners pension problems— “As Christmas nears, there is reason for good cheer — especially for more than 100,000 miners whose pensions were in jeopardy of ending either this year or next. Thanks to the hard work of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in Washington have stood up and done the right thing: Written funding into a must-pass-or-close-the-government spending bill that will now guarantee those pensions remain. The bill, which passed out of the House on Tuesday, must be signed into law by Friday to keep government funded and functioning.”

Times West VirginiaNew Agreement Could Secure Miners’ Pensions, Health Care— “From the moment Murray Energy announced it had filed for bankruptcy in late October, elected officials in West Virginia have been searching for a solution to save the pensions and health care for some 100,000 U.S. miners. On Monday, the U.S. took action with the approval of the Bipartisan American Miners Act. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said the measure has been included in the final funding package that will keep the government open beyond Dec. 20 when the current temporary funding measure expires. The funding package would prevent a government shutdown.”

NextStar Media Wire Coal miners celebrate passage of bill aimed at protecting their healthcare, benefits – “For coal miners, it’s been a nearly 10-year long battle to save their pensions and health care. But on Thursday, they were able to celebrate the last-minute passage of the Bipartisan American Miners Act that not only avoids a government shutdown but also includes the long-awaited plan to save those funds from going bankrupt.”

The Dominion Post: Senate To Vote On Spending Bill With Miners’ Pension Protections On Thursday; Workers’ Bankruptcy Protection Next In View – “The long journey to protect coal miners’ pensions will be one presidential signature from its conclusion on Thursday after the U.S.  Senate votes on the spending package the pension bill is wrapped into. The House of Representatives passed the spending agreement – 12 bills in two packages totaling $1.37 trillion – on Tuesday. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., who worked with Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito to pass the pension bill protecting the pensions of 92,000 miners and their widows– praised the House action in a release.”

MetroNews: US Senate approves spending package, funding for coal miners benefits–  “The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a $1.4 trillion spending package that includes funding for health care and pensions for thousands of coal miners.”

WTRF: As Nation Watches Impeachment, Miners Wait For Vote On Pensions— “Thousands of current and retired coal miners are anxiously watching the U.S. Senate this week, anticipating its vote on a $1.4 trillion spending package. Their biggest concern isn’t the government shutdown looming at the end of the week. It’s the Bipartisan American Miners Act, which is part of the package, that will protect their healthcare and pensions.”

The Wheeling Intelligencer: Plan For Securing Miners’ Pensions Passes House— “A measure intended to provide a permanent solution to shoring up coal miners’ pensions passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday and is expected to get a vote in the Senate Friday. The Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 was included in the final funding package to keep the federal government in operation beyond Dec. 20, when current temporary funding measure expires. The spending bill is expected to have its vote in the Senate on Friday.”

MetroNews: US House Passes $1.4 Trillion Package, Which Includes Miner Benefits Funding– “The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a $1.4 trillion spending package that includes funding for coal miners’ pensions and health care as well as multiple policy changes. The House voted 297-120 for funding domestic programs and 280-138 for funding security efforts. The first measure dedicates funding for the health care benefits of 13,000 coal miners and pensions of 92,000 others. West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito pushed the funding as part of the Bipartisan American Miners Act.”

Background

Since 2013, McKinley has introduced bipartisan legislation to protect pensions and health care benefits for more than 100,000 United Mine Workers Association (UMWA) retirees and family members.

  • In July 2019, McKinley testified in front of the House Natural Recourses Committee on the importance of his legislation, the  Miners Pension Protection Act  (H.R. 935). To watch his testimony, click here.
  • Rep. David McKinley(R-W.Va.) and UMWA President Cecil Roberts also published an op-ed on the importance of protecting miners’ pensions in the Hill. To read the full op-ed click here
  • In March 2019, McKinley spoke with coal-miners and supporters in Washington and call for legislative action to protect pensions for around 100,000 United Mine Workers Association (WMWA) retirees and family members. To view the full video of the press conference, click here
  • In July 2018, McKinley led a letter to the leadership of the Joint Select Committee on Multi-Employer Pension Plans, urging them to address the looming insolvency of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan. The bipartisan letter was signed by 25 Members of Congress. To read the letter click here.
  • In February 2018, Congress formed the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multi-Employer Pension Plans, a committee designated to find a funding solution for the looming multi-employer pension crisis. The Select Committee failed to produce a proposal.
  • In October 2017, Rep. McKinley introduced the American Miners Pension Act, legislation that would stabilize the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan.
  • In May 2017, Rep. McKinley helped secure permanent funding to save the health care benefits for retired miners. As a result, 22,000 retired coal miners and their families were able to maintain their health benefits.

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