Republicans are taking coal miners' pensions and their healthcare. (UPDATED) - Grist


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war on coal

Republicans are taking coal miners’ pensions and their healthcare. (UPDATED)

Coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Those who survive long careers in the mines are often plagued by chronic disease, including black lung. Unlike most Americans, however, about 120,000 ex-miners draw their pension and health care from the 1940s-era United Mine Workers of America fund, which is flat-out broke today.

Those benefits will expire at the end of the year unless the Senate steps in.

Senate Democrats are trying to pass the Miners Protection Act, which would require money from a federal abandoned-mine-reclamation program to pay for the pensions and healthcare of tens of thousands of coal miners, both active and retired.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and fellow anti-union Republicans have fought the Act, and unless they decide to compromise, this fight could actually shut down the government. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have pledged to block a federal funding bill unless Republicans act.

President-elect Trump campaigned on bringing back those same coal miners’ jobs (through sorcery, perhaps.) Someone is working to help miners, but it ain’t Trump — or many Republicans for that matter.

UPDATE: Sen. Manchin announced Friday evening that he would not press a blockade of the bill to avoid government shutdown. Ah, well.