CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Miners Protection Act to address health and pension benefits for coal miners and their families will not be included in a continuing resolution bill, according to a Tuesday announcement.
Congress said the bill, which would continue to fund the federal government, only has four months of funding for those retired miners and their widows.
Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America, called the announcement “a slap in the face to all 22,000 of them who desperately need their health care next month, next year and for the rest of their lives.”
In a statement released Tuesday night, Roberts went on to say:
“The notion that Congress needs more time to consider this matter is absurd. This legislation has been before Congress for four years, has been through regular order in the Senate as was requested by the Majority Leader, and was passed by the Senate Finance Committee by an overwhelming margin in September. The time to pass the full Miners Protection Act is now,” Robert said.
U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) have been pushing a financial fix for the program that has guaranteed funding of union miners’ pensions and lifetime health care since the 1940’s.
Capito said she was “disappointed” the full Miners Protection Act didn’t make it into the bill, which Congress is expected to pass by Friday.
“While the short-term, four-month patch will prevent our miners from losing their health care benefits in just a few weeks, we have more work to do. I will continue fighting until a long-term solution is reached,” Capito said in a statement.
Approximately 12,500 retired union miners and the widows of retirees stand to lose their pension and health care benefits across the nation.