FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 1, 2017
[TRIANGLE, VA] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“The inclusion of permanent funding for the health care of 22,600 retired coal miners, their dependents and widows in the 2017 omnibus appropriations bill is tremendous news. Swift passage of that bill by Congress this week will mean that those senior citizens and their families will finally have the peace of mind about their future that has eluded them for years.
“Many people in Congress have worked very hard to bring us to this point, both Republicans and Democrats. I especially want to thank our lead sponsors, Senators Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. David McKinley, all from West Virginia, who were lions in this fight. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman from Ohio, Bob Casey from Pennsylvania and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine from Virginia were also great leaders in this effort.
“I want to thank Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Ron Wyden from Oregon, who led the effort to move us through the Finance Committee, and all of the 18 Senators on that committee who voted in favor of this bill last September.
“And when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in late last year supporting a permanent fix for these benefits, that proved to be a decisive moment in the Senate. Our sincere thanks go to him, as well as to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who played a critical role to ensure that this deal came about.
“In the House, Rep. McKinley went repeatedly to leadership, other members and whoever else would listen about this bill and never once backed away from this fight. Reps. Evan Jenkins (WV), Mike Doyle (PA), Bobby Scott (VA), Tim Ryan (OH), Steve Stivers (OH), Jim Renacci (OH), Hal Rogers (KY), Andy Barr (KY), Mike Bost (IL), Rodney Davis (IL) and so many others were stalwarts in this effort. Their collective efforts brought House leadership to the point of agreement, and I cannot say enough about them.
“Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has long been a champion of this effort, and we appreciate her willingness to go to the mat for us. I also want to thank Speaker Paul Ryan for considering and eventually agreeing to the permanent fix that was so badly needed.
“The thousands of UMWA members who marched, rallied, made phone calls and wrote letter after letter to their representatives in Washington were the keys to this. Their efforts made the critical difference, and to them goes the lion’s share of the credit for getting us to this point.”
“Now, let’s pass this and move on to preserving the pensions of 89,000 more retirees who earned them in blood and toil.”