WASHINGTON (WTRF) – All four U.S. Senators from West Virginia and Ohio have been leading the effort to secure these pensions for miners. One of those Senators is Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who spoke with 7News on Thursday.
The $1.4 trillion spending package features significant changes to our nation’s retirement system. The U.S. Senate broke it down into two parts, passing the first measure by a 71-23 vote before an 81-11 vote on the second bill that includes funding for the Department of Defense.
Part of the bill includes a deal that will help preserve pensions and health care for thousands of active and retired coal miners and their families.
Last week, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he would put a hold on all bills heading to the Senate floor until this funding was included in the spending bill. His Republican counterpart, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, adds that this bill also provides West Virginia aids for rural broadband and combatting the opioid crisis.
In addition, the spending bill would allow more money to be transferred from the Abandoned Mine Land fund to help fund miners’ pensions.
“This will fix the miners’ pension,” said Sen. Brown. “There aren’t a lot of new miners pensions coming on-board so this unfortunately closes a chapter but at least it takes care of those people who have qualified for the mine workers pension.”
The bill’s supporters say it will secure pensions for around 92,000 miners and ensure benefits for miners affected by recent coal company bankruptcies, like the Murray Energy bankruptcy.
The spending bill now heads to President Trump’s desk, where he has the option to sign it into law.