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Tue Dec 6, 2016, 02:19 PM

Senate leader pushes for extension of coal miner healthcare

Source: Reuters

POLITICS | Tue Dec 6, 2016 | 1:44pm EST

Senate leader pushes for extension of coal miner healthcare

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he is pushing to extend expiring healthcare benefits for retired coal miners by including a provision in a spending bill Congress hopes to pass this week.

In a statement on the Senate floor, McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said that in conversations with House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan he has insisted that the Continuing Resolution include "a provision to address that issue so these retirees don't lose their healthcare benefit at the end of this year."

The fate of the United Mine Workers' health care and pension funds is up in the air as Congress weighs legislation to provide financial support for the soon-expiring benefits, which are at risk of default as coal companies grapple with bankruptcies.

Although the Senate Finance Committee in September passed a bill to provide funding for those benefits senior lawmakers are looking for ways to include the provision in the spending bill that has to be passed before existing government funding expires on Dec. 9.

Democratic Senators of coal-producing states - Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Mark Warner of Virginia and Joe Manchin of West Virginia - said they would block must-pass legislation until Congress takes action on the so-called Miners Protection Act.

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Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-coalminers-idUSKBN13V1YL

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