WASHINGTON (WDTV)-- U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced on Monday a bipartisan agreement to secure pensions and healthcare for nearly 100,000 coal miners and their families.
According to a press release from the senator's office, Senator Manchin's Bipartisan American Miners Act (S. 2788) has been included in the final funding package that will keep the government open passed Dec. 20, when the current temporary funding measure expires.
The bill secures lifetime healthcare benefits for the 13,000 miners who would have lost their benefits entirely and the 92,000 miners who would have seen their pensions disappear next year without Congressional action, according to Manchin's office.
“Today we came to an agreement that will finally secure pensions and healthcare for our coal miners and their families. We have honored the promise this country made to them back in 1946," said Manchin "This would not have happened without the UMWA and the thousands of coal miners who invested their time and energy, year after year, coming to Washington, walking the halls, and fighting for their brothers and sisters. It has been the honor of my life to lead this fight and bring together the coalition that made this possible. I want to thank my colleagues in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, for making this a truly bipartisan effort. I look forward to voting for this crucial bill later this week and sending it to the President so he can sign it into law and provide some well-deserved peace of mind to these great Americans that have done everything this country has asked of them."
Manchin has introduced legislation to secure lifetime healthcare and pension benefits for coal miners and their families since 2015.
United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts said even though the inclusion of the bill in the appropriations legislation is a victory, the fight is not over yet.
"The House will vote on this tomorrow, and the Senate will vote later in the week," Roberts said. "We will continue our efforts to ensure that this language stays in the legislation throughout the process, because there are still those who oppose allowing retirees to live out their days with the measure of comfort and dignity that they have earned."
Roberts said Senators Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and U.S. Representative David McKinley (R-W.Va.) fought hard to get to this day.
“Our three champions on both sides of Capitol Hill fought hard against sometimes long odds to get us to this day: Senator Joe Manchin Senator Shelley Moore Capito and Representative David McKinley," said Roberts. "They never quit, they never turned around, they never stopped working side by side with us to get this done."
Roberts said he also wants to thank Congressional leadership for agreeing to add the language to the funding bills.
A full timeline of Manchin's work on the legislation is attached to the right of this article.