For Immediate Release:
March 8, 2017
MANCHIN, WYDEN, BROWN, CASEY AND WARNER URGE FINANCE COMMITTEE TO ACT ON MINERS PROTECTION ACT BEFORE MOVING LIGHTHIZER NOMINATION
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Senate Finance Committee Democrats Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Bob Casey, D-Penn., Mark Warner, D-Va. today called on the Senate Finance Committee to protect coal miner’s pensions before advancing out of the Finance Committee the nomination of Robert Lighthizer to be the United States Trade Representative. Last week these senators sent a letter to Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) requesting the Miners Protection Act be attached to the waiver needed for the nomination of Mr. Robert Lighthizer to be the United States Trade Representative.
The Senators said: “We are disappointed Chairman Hatch has not responded to our letter last week or made a commitment to working with us to find a long-term solution to protect these benefits our coal miners earned through a lifetime of hard work. As of last week, 22,600 miners began receiving letters informing them that their healthcare benefits would be terminated at the end of April. The clock is ticking. Passing the Miners Protection Act should be the highest priority for the Senate Finance Committee and should be addressed as part of the waiver legislation needed for Mr. Lighthizer.”
To read the letter that retired miners received on March 1, click here.
Read the letter that Senator Manchin sent to the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, or click here:
Dear Chairman Hatch:
On March 1, approximately 22,800 of our nation’s retired coal miners will receive notices like the one attached here informing them that their healthcare benefits will be terminated at the end of April. This will be the third such notice that has been issued over the past four months. Our miners did everything we asked of them, and it is time that we uphold our end of the bargain and provide them with the permanent benefits they earned through a lifetime of work.
Last year, on September 21st, the Miners Protection Act was passed by the Committee on Finance on a bipartisan vote of 18 to 8 with your support. As you know, we worked closely with our colleagues to ensure that the bill was fully offset and that no funding was diverted away from either abandoned mine reclamation efforts or annual payments to certified states. Despite unanimous support from Senate Democrats, the Miners Protection Act was not included in the Continuing Resolution last December, and we seek your support today for a permanent solution that gives our miners and their families peace of mind.
We request that the Finance Committee attach the Miners Protection Act of 2017 (S. 175) to the statutorily-required waiver needed for the nomination of Mr. Robert Lighthizer to be the United States Trade Representative. Attaching the Miners Protection Act to this waiver will help ensure quick action so that thousands of our nation’s coal miners no longer face the insecurity that comes with the loss of their hard-earned health and retirement benefits.
The Miners Protection Act is a responsible, bipartisan solution to a real problem facing the American people, and we look forward to working with you to find a path forward for this critical legislation.