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Mine workers pension relief bill introduced

U.S. Capitol, Washington

Legislation that would transfer federal funds to shore up the severely underfunded $4.4 billion United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan, Washington, was introduced Thursday in the Senate, with bipartisan co-sponsors.

Last September, the Senate Finance Committee approved similar legislation, but no further action was taken. The current proposed bill would allow for transfer of surplus funds from the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund, which currently goes to the U.S. Treasury, to the pension fund. Without that ability, the pension fund could become insolvent and overwhelm the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the bill's sponsors warned.

The legislation follows Senate action to fund a similar underfunded health-care fund for the union's retirees. “It's time to keep the second part of the promise and secure the pensions that they have earned over a lifetime of hard and dangerous work,” chief sponsor Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., said in a statement. “I know my colleagues will stick by them this time just like they did with health care and I look forward to working with them to finally keep our promise.”

Lead Senate co-sponsors of the proposed Miners Pension Protection Act include Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, plus 14 other bipartisan co-sponsors.