WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says the coal industry could take a hard hit if some provisions in the Senate tax reform bill passed last week stay in place.
During an appearance Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline,” Manchin said the bill keeps the alternative minimum tax in place while taking away the deduction for net interest as a cost of doing business.
Manchin said he’s already heard from those connected with the coal industry.
“Here’s everybody calling. Bill Raney (West Virginia Coal Association president) sending me emergency messages saying, ‘We’ve got serious problems. This bill is going to kill us.’ Bob Murray (Murray Energy president) is in a panic right now..he’s going to have to lay people off,” Manchin said. “I don’t want one miner to lose this job over this bill.”
Murray told CNBC Monday the provisions would mean a $60 million increase in taxes a year for his business, “notwithstanding the other so-called benefits the Senate has proposed.”
“This means that very capital-intensive, highly leveraged employers, like coal-mining companies, will be forced out of business, with tragic consequences for our families and for many regions of our country,” Murray told the network.
The House version of the tax reform bill eliminates the alternative minimum tax. The House and Senate are expected to begin an effort to work out the differences in the bills in the near future.
Manchin said the concern by Murray further proves the process by which the Senate bill was crafted and finalized was flawed.
“If they would recommit this thing back to the committee and let us have the hearings–we could fix this,” Manchin said.
Manchin voted against the bill while fellow U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito voted for hit. During an appearance Monday on “Talkline” Capito wasn’t buying the argument by Manchin and others that they didn’t know what was in the bill.
“Yes, I know what’s in it. It’s been out in the public space. It’s been in front of the finance committee, the budget committee, the energy committee,” she said. “I think that’s a bit of a disingenuous argument. How can you argue that you don’t know what’s in it…and then argue against everything that’s in it.”
Manchin said Tuesday he doesn’t believe Capito knew the things that Murray and the coal industry are concerned about were in the bill.
“I know that Shelley did not want to hurt coal companies, coal workers, miners, I know she didn’t. I know she would not and I’m sure she’ll try to do whatever she can to repair it. I believe that in my heart. But she didn’t know,” Manchin said.
Capito Communications Director Ashley Berrang told MetroNews Senator Capito hopes the concerns can be worked out in conference committee.
“Senator Capito has talked with several stakeholders who could be affected by this and is working on a solution. She is hopeful that tweaks will be made in the House-Senate conference to address their concerns, especially because this impacts companies both in West Virginia and other states,” Berrang said.