Legislation that would provide assets to nearly insolvent miners pension and health-care funds will be part of a must-pass spending package this year, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Monday.
The spending package must be approved by Friday to keep the federal government open, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.
The proposed Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 would transfer funds from the Interior Department's Abandoned Mine Land fund to help cover the pension benefit obligations of the United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan, Washington, and health-care benefits. The agreement "will finally secure pensions and health care for our coal miners and their families," said Mr. Manchin, who said the deal "would not have happened" without the United Mine Workers of America.
The spending bill does not address any other multiemployer pension funds, which are still the subject of negotiations in the Senate that are not expected to be finalized in 2019.
Mr. Manchin was chief sponsor of the miners' legislation that was co-introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with bipartisan support from co-sponsors Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Democratic Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama, Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner of Virginia, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.