Lawmakers propose bill aimed to help retired coal miners

News

Despite President Trump’s affinity for coal, coal miners and their families face an uncertain future, especially retired coal miners, whose pensions are drying up as their former companies go bankrupt.

Lawmakers are trying to come to the rescue with the American Coal Miners Act of 2019.

The bill would prop up miners’ pension funds, ensure healthcare coverage, and extend black lung benefits for disabled miners and their dependents.

After decades of tough works in the mines, retired coal workers like Manueal Ojeda want peace of mind.

“Me and thousands of other people like me helped to keep the lights on in this country. We’ve done our jobs now it’s time for Congress to do their jobs.”

Miners want lawmakers to protect their hard-earned pensions.

Senator Joe Manchin says the American Coal Miners Act of 2019 would do the trick.

“It guarantees the pensions that we’ve been fighting for.”

Many retired mine workers rely on the 1974 pension plan to provide benefits. But the closure of coal companies has left those funds uncertain.

Manchin’s legislation would amend existing mining laws so certain funds could be transferred to the pension plan.

“It’s not going to come out of the taxpayers’ dollars.”

Lawmakers say they want to make sure miners receive healthcare benefits even if their employers go bankrupt.

The bill would also help make sure miners suffering from black lung get the resources they need.

“Black lung is still a real, enormous medical challenge.”

Senator Mark Warner says contributions to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund are set to drastically decrease if Congress doesn’t act fast.

Warner urges lawmakers to support the bill and extend the current tax rate for 10 years.

“It is way past time to fix this problem. Let’s take that step.”

Miners say they’re counting on Congress to get them the healthcare and pensions they’ve worked for.

“If Congress comes through with that everything will be alright for us and that is what we are asking for.”

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.

(This story was originally published on February 18, 2019)

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.