The proud heritage of coal mining in West Virginia is rightly appreciated. As coal mines close and jobs in the industry become scarce, one thing is clear: miners and their families deserve to be looked after long after miners finish their final shifts.
As this story notes, a group of Democratic senators is asking congressional leadership to pass legislation permanently funding health care and pension benefits for retired coal miners instead of forcing them to come year after year to ask for the money to be allocated as promised.
By 2022, 87,000 retired coal miners could lose their pensions if lawmakers do nothing and 20,000 who have yet to draw their pensions might never get them. Health benefits are also at risk.
That would be a betrayal of lifetimes of hard work. As legislators note in the story, “this is literally a life and death issue for thousands of families across this country.”
Now is the time to include a permanent solution for miners health care and pension benefits in the short-term funding package that will ensure operation of the U.S. government beyond Sept. 30.
The U.S. House has passed resolutions to shore up miner pensions and medical benefits, though WV congressional representatives Alex Mooney (R-WV02) and Carol Miller (R-WV03) voted against them. Mitch McConnel has been blocking votes in the Senate.