WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) welcomed Kentuckians with the United Mine Workers of America to his office in the U.S. Capitol this week. The Kentucky coal miner retirees presented Senator McConnell with a coal plaque honoring him for his work to protect pension benefits for coal miners and their families.
Utilizing his role as Majority Leader, Senator McConnell ensured his bill, the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019, which he introduced with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), was included in the Fiscal Year 2020 government-funding agreement, which President Donald Trump signed into law last year.
“It was great to celebrate President Trump’s signing of my Bipartisan American Miners Act with these Kentucky coal miner retirees. This law secured the retirement benefits for more than 90,000 retired coal miners and their dependents nationwide, including many in Kentucky,” said Senator McConnell. “The uncertainty and pain from President Obama’s War on Coal left many of these families watching their retirement security slipping away. Our coal communities needed help, and I was determined to provide it. I made our case directly to President Trump and used my position as Senate Majority Leader to make sure our bipartisan bill got to his desk. I’m proud to keep standing with Kentucky’s coal families and will continue championing their priorities in the Senate.”
Eddie Embry of Hartford, Kentucky, UMWA retiree said, “We are so very appreciative of Leader McConnell’s support for the Bipartisan American Miners Act. This has been a long struggle but worth it, in the end. Leader McConnell’s support was essential to our victory, and we were happy to recognize his contribution on behalf of the membership of the UMWA.”
The coal plaque (below) reads: “At our most desperate hour, you rose to the aid of America’s retired miners and widows, On behalf of a grateful union, we present this to Senator Mitch McConnell. We will never forget your dedication to our cause as we mark the passage of The Bipartisan American Miners Act” –Cecil E. Roberts, International President and Levi Allen, International Secretary-Treasurer of the United Mine Workers of America.
The Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 secured funding for the 1974 miner Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. The law also expands the existing health care benefits provided under Senator McConnell’s HELP for Coal Miners Health Care Act of 2017 to the orphaned coal miners whose medical benefits have been put in jeopardy due to recent coal company bankruptcies.
- In 2017, Senator McConnell mobilized Congress to permanently secure health care benefits for thousands of retired miners. Had Congress not acted, approximately 3,000 Kentucky coal miner retirees – and tens of thousands more around the country – would have lost their health care benefits. The bill also included additional assistance for troubled coal-mining communities and dislocated coal workers.
- As senior appropriators, Senator McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05) have secured hundreds of millions of dollars for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program (AML Pilot). ARC funding supports economic growth in Eastern Kentucky by helping create jobs, combat the spiking substance abuse epidemic, and provide employment training for former coal miners, among a number of other worthy initiatives. In 2015, Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers established the AML Pilot, which promotes economic and community development on abandoned mine lands. Since then, they have helped secure more than $100 million for Kentucky through this program
- Senator McConnell also helped secure nearly $130 million through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to provide career and training services to dislocated workers in rural areas, including dislocated coal workers in Kentucky who lost their jobs. This includes $3.7 million to help support the recently impacted Harlan County, Kentucky coal miners and their families with employment and training services.
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