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Senators introduce Miners Pension Protection Act

By ANDREA LANNOM

The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito joined several others in introducing a bill aimed at securing miners’ pensions.

Senators introduced the Miners Pension Protection Act, which secures pensions by shoring up the 1974 pension plan, according to a Thursday news release.

U.S. Sens. Shelley Capito and Joe Manchin

The plan is headed for insolvency because of coal bankruptcies and the 2008 fiscal crisis.

“Now that we have secured a permanent health care fix for our retired miners, it’s time to keep the second part of the promise and secure the pensions that they have earned over a lifetime of hard and dangerous work,” Manchin said. “We cannot allow for this issue to be put off until the deadline only to punt it with extensions.

The act will amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to transfer funds in excess of amounts needed to meet obligations under the Abandoned Mine Land fund to the 1974 Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency, the release said.

“Our retired miners deserve better than to receive letters notifying them and that they will no longer receive their modest pension, which many rely on for survival,” Manchin said. “For most of these retired miners, their pension is the difference between paying the bills or being kicked out of their house, putting food on their tables or going hungry. I know my colleagues will stick by them this time just like they did with health care and I look forward to working with them to finally keep our promise.”

On May 4, the Senate passed a portion of the original Miners Protection Act of 2016, securing a permanent health care fix for retired miners who were affected by coal bankruptcies.

This ensured that 22,600 miners in the country did not lose their health care benefits.

“Securing permanent health care for our miners and their families was only half the battle,” Capito said in the news release. “The Miners Pension Protection Act is our commitment to continue the fight for these hardworking men and women. This legislation will help ensure they receive the pensions they’ve earned through years of hard work. So many West Virginians are still facing uncertain futures. I’m proud to stand with our miners and with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to deliver the peace of mind they deserve.”

Other senators who co-sponsored the Miners Pension Protection Act are Mark Warner, D-Va.; Bob Casey, D-Pa..; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Cory Booker, D-N.J.; and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

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