Senator McConnell welcomed Kentucky UMWA Retirees to his office in the U.S. Capitol
'We introduced new legislation to expand that health care fix to include 13,000 more miners and protect the pensions of nearly 92,000 miners into the future. Earlier this week I personally raised this subject with President Trump. We discussed the importance of working toward a solution for these retirees. Just yesterday, I hosted Kentucky miners here in the Capitol to hear their concerns and to discuss a potential path forward.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan bill he introduced with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), to protect health care and pension benefits for Kentucky miners – the Bipartisan American Miners Act:
"One of the untold stories of the Obama administration was the dramatic geographic inequality that deepened on Democrats' watch.
"From 2010 to 2016, the nation's largest metro areas captured nearly 75 percent of the new jobs and 90 percent of the population growth. Big cities did okay. But unfair and regressive policies like the War on Coal left many other communities — smaller cities, small towns, and rural areas — in the dust.
"Homegrown American energy, including coal, has supported entire communities in Kentucky and throughout the country for generations. But even before he took office, President Obama declared war on coal. Here's what he said, 'If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them.'
"Of course, that approach didn't only hurt American businesses. It hurt American workers.
In 2009, 23,000 Kentuckians made their living mining coal. By the end of 2016, that number had dropped to barely more than 6,500. Nearly three quarters of the state's coal jobs, gone in the span of one presidency.
"So, since the earliest days of the Trump administration, we've prioritized ending the War on Coal and repairing the damage.
"We've repealed hostile regulations and created tailwinds instead of headwinds for American energy dominance.
"But eight years of damage is not easy to unwind. Many coal communities are still suffering. More mine closures. More bankruptcies. Workers' paychecks and retirees' pensions thrown into uncertainty.
"So our work continues. A few years back, I worked to secure permanent health benefits for thousands of retirees. And yesterday, a bipartisan group here in the Senate, led by Senators Capito, Manchin, and myself, took a major step toward addressing the emergency of underfunded pensions for thousands of miners, retirees, and their families.
"We introduced new legislation to expand that health care fix to include 13,000 more miners and protect the pensions of nearly 92,000 miners into the future.
"Earlier this week I personally raised this subject with President Trump. We discussed the importance of working toward a solution for these retirees.
"Just yesterday, I hosted Kentucky miners here in the Capitol to hear their concerns and to discuss a potential path forward.
"I've spent my entire career in the Senate fighting for all Kentuckians. I've worked to protect coal communities from bad ideas and to promote their future. And I will keep working with the Trump administration and with my colleagues on both sides to support our mining families."