Senate approves bipartisan bill introduced by Senators McConnell, Capito, and Manchin to protect coal families' pension benefits. Utilizing his role as Majority Leader, McConnell personally raised the need to address this urgent crisis with President Trump and successfully secured the provision in the end of the year funding bills.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate on Thursday, December 19, 2019 approved the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019, introduced by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), to protect pension benefits for coal miners and their families. Utilizing his role as Majority Leader and as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator McConnell secured their bipartisan bill in the Fiscal Year 2020 government-funding agreement, which now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.
"Kentucky continues to punch above its weight in Washington as I use my position as Majority Leader to advance Kentucky priorities, such as my bipartisan bill with Senators Capito and Manchin, to safeguard coal miners' pension and health care benefits from a looming threat. As Senate Majority Leader, I personally told President Trump and my Congressional colleagues that this was a top priority for me and for thousands of Kentuckians in need," said Majority Leader McConnell. "I'm proud the Senate approved legislation today including our Bipartisan American Miners Act to help Kentucky coal miners, retirees, and their families. It is because of my role as Senate Majority Leader our legislation was included in the government-funding bill and that President Trump will be signing the Bipartisan American Miners Act into law by week's end."
The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President Cecil E. Roberts, applauded Senate passage and thanked Senator McConnell for his leadership, saying, "Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's support was crucial to passing this legislation, and on behalf of America's retired coal miners I thank him for his efforts to ensure this became a reality. We will never forget it. Once this legislation is signed by the President, Congress will have saved the lives of thousands throughout America."
The Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 will secure funding for the 1974 miner Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. The bipartisan bill also expands the existing health care benefits provided under Senator McConnell's HELP for Coal Miners Health Care Act of 2017 to the orphaned coal miners whose benefits have been put in jeopardy due to recent coal company bankruptcies. These actions will secure the pensions of 92,000 coal miners and protect health care benefits for 13,000 miners.
"Throughout my entire Senate career, I've fought to advance policies that support miners and their families and protect them from anti-coal policies. The lasting devastation from President Obama's War on Coal has contributed to a number of recent coal company bankruptcies, throwing many Kentucky coal communities into crisis, and they needed our help," added Majority Leader McConnell. "As Senate Majority Leader, I was proud to use my position to deliver for these Kentucky miners and their families."
- In 2017, Senator McConnell mobilized Congress to permanently secure health care benefits for thousands of retired miners. Had Congress not acted, approximately 3,000 Kentucky coal miner retirees – and tens of thousands more around the country – would have lost their health care benefits. The bill also included additional assistance for troubled coal-mining communities and dislocated coal workers.
- As senior appropriators, Senator McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05) have secured hundreds of millions of dollars for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program (AML Pilot). ARC funding supports economic growth in Eastern Kentucky by helping create jobs, combat the spiking substance abuse epidemic, and provide employment training for former coal miners, among a number of other worthy initiatives. In 2015, Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers established the AML Pilot, which promotes economic and community development on abandoned mine lands. Since then, they have helped secure more than $100 million for Kentucky through this program.
- Senator McConnell also helped secure $99 million through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to provide career and training services to dislocated workers in rural areas, including dislocated coal workers in Kentucky who lost their jobs. This includes $3.7 million to help support the recently impacted Harlan County, Kentucky coal miners and their families with employment and training services.