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As nation watches impeachment, miners wait for vote on pensions


WASHINGTON (WTRF) – Thousands of current and retired coal miners are anxiously watching the U.S. Senate this week, anticipating its vote on a $1.4 trillion spending package. 

Their biggest concern isn’t the government shutdown looming at the end of the week. It’s the Bipartisan American Miners Act, which is part of the package, that will protect their healthcare and pensions. 

We have honored the promise the country made to all the miners back in 1946.

Senator Joe Manchin – (D) West Virginia

West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito are also anxiously anticipating this week’s vote on a government spending package. 

92,000 of our coal miners are counting on us to protect their pensions. 13,000 coal miners are counting on us to protect their healthcare benefits and this week we’ll have the chance to do just that.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito – (R) West Virginia

Many of those are in the Mountain State.

Senator Capito said on the Senate floor Tuesday, more than 25,000 miners from all 55 West Virginia counties received pensions last year. Another 5,600 are at risk of losing healthcare. 

Can you imagine going into Christmas, there would have been a thousand miners lose their healthcare at the end of this month?

Senator Joe Manchin – (D) West Virginia

After the bill passed the House earlier this week with bipartisan backing, both Senators are hopeful benefits will be restored. 

Since 2016 we have been able to secure lifetime healthcare benefits for 36,000 miners and their family and pensions for 92,000 miners and their family. It’s unbelievable if we work together what can get done.

Senator Joe Manchin – (D) West Virginia

Senators Manchin and Capito also gave credit to their colleagues in the Senate, and counterparts in the House for helping push this part of the larger spending package through. 

We’ve been doing this thing since I came. We introduced our first bill in 2013, so now almost seven years we’ve been working to get this thing done.

Rep. David McKinley – (R) West Virginia

For months now representatives from the UMWA and other miners have rallied in our nation’s capitol, efforts the Senators say didn’t go unnoticed by lawmakers. 

No one should be surprised by their dedication and commitment because our West Virginia miners have answered the call throughout their careers. Their handwork provided the electricity and the steel that has powered our American economy, and the time has come to protect the retirement benefits that these miners have earned.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito – (R) West Virginia

Even with the anticipation of the vote passing, the Senators are concerned it is so close to the deadline of a possible government shutdown. 

It’s a shame that we have to go down to the last minute, of the last hour, at the end of the year and have people strung out not knowing if they’re going to have healthcare, not knowing if their pensions are going to be cut.

Senator Joe Manchin – (D) West Virginia

This larger spending package wound fund the government through September of next year.

It also includes funds for other issues important to West Virginians including transportation and infrastructure and combating the opioid crisis. There is also a measure that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21. 

So far, there’s no indication as to when that Senate vote would take place this week.

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