Capito, Portman lead miners protection bill to committee passage

U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rob Portman (R-OH) were instrumental in committee approval of legislation on Wednesday that would protect retired miners.

The Miners Protection Act, which went through markup by the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, would address shortfalls in the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 health and retirement funds that jeopardize benefits earned by retired miners.

Capito previously secured a commitment from U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the chairman of the committee, that the committee would take up the bill before Sept. 30.

“(Wednesday’s) strong vote in the Senate Finance Committee indicates a good level of support for the Miners Protection Act, and is a good step to ease some of the insecurity our miners are facing,” Capito said. “I am grateful that Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden followed through on the agreement we reached in June to move this critical bill through the committee process.”

Capito said that the matter should not be a partisan issue, and that the Miners Protection Act was a “fix that would benefit many.”

“It will mean a real difference in the quality of life for tens of thousands of Americans just months from now, and I hope my colleagues will recognize the uncertain futures facing our miners,” Capito said. “I will continue working with Senator Manchin and my other colleagues to secure more support for the bill and bring it to the Senate floor before the end of the year.”

Portman, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, spoke at a Miners Protection Rally in front of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

“I’m pleased the committee has taken action to help protect the pensions and health care of the thousands of coal miners in Ohio who have worked hard, played by the rules, and earned their benefits,” Portman said. “Now that the Senate Finance Committee has approved this bipartisan bill, the full Senate should vote on it quickly. It’s time to keep our promises to our coal miners and that’s exactly what this bill does.”

Portman also thanked Capito, Hatch and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) for their leadership on the issue.

“Now that this important first step has been achieved, it is vital that Congress move as quickly as possible to finally pass this legislation that will mean so much to the lives of thousands of senior citizens across America,” Portman said. “There is no more time to waste.”

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