US Senate approves spending package, funding for coal miners benefits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — 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.

The Senate passed two resolutions regarding domestic and security spending in respective 71-23 and 81-11 votes. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted for both resolutions.

The first resolution will fund the health care for 13,000 coal miners and pensions for 92,000 others. Manchin, Capito and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pushed the funding as the Bipartisan American Miners Act.

Capito thanked Manchin, McConnell, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and the United Mine Workers of American for their efforts in securing the funds.

“It’s because of the dedication and heart these miners displayed throughout the entire process that we were able to get this done. I thank them for their hope, their patience, and their tireless efforts to fight this until the very end,” she said.

The domestic spending bill also includes $3.8 billion for addressing the drug crisis, $1.4 billion for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and $570 million for developing rural broadband.

“All of these wins are wonderful for West Virginia and I look forward to continuing to fight to ensure that our state receives the funding and resources we need to thrive and succeed,” Manchin said.

Other provisions of the package include raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 and repealing three taxes in former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the funding package on Tuesday. All three of West Virginia’s representatives approved the domestic spending bill, but Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., opposed the security measure. President Donald Trump is expected to approve the spending package, preventing a government shutdown that would go into effect at midnight Friday.

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