WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin gaveĀ a floor speech Tuesday to defend the Miners Protection Act.

After Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) questioned the MPA, Manchin reiterated that the bill was a promise made in the 1940’s during the Truman administration that should be honored.

“They’re tough, they’re hard working but extremely patriotic,” Manchin said of miners. “They basically dedicated their lives to powering our nation. We wouldn’t be the nation we are today if it weren’t for our miners who are now seeming to be cast aside and forgotten about.”

Those miners are in danger of losing their health benefits by the end of the year, Manchin said. He denied that defending the MPA was about favoring the UMWA or any union.

“We’re not picking union over non-union. The agreement was made with the UMWA, because everyone working in the mines during that time belonged to the UMWA,” he said. “We’ve got to protect that promise that was made in executive order over 70 years ago.”

In the wake of historic flooding, Manchin said passing the MPA is even more urgent.

“Every one of those little communities was a coal mining community that got hit. You just add more tragedy on top of the already devastating tragedy that we have.”

Manchin and several other senators wrote a letter earlier this year to Sen. Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell restating willingness to work in a bipartisan manner to get the law passed.

A vote is expected on the Miners Protection Act in September.