A bill that would safeguard the miners’ health care benefits that are threatened by coal company bankruptcies has taken a step forward in Congress. The House Natural Resources Committee yesterday passed HR 934, the Health Benefits for Miners Act - clearing the way for the bills to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. Also approved by unanimous voice vote: HR 935, the Miners Pension Protection Act.

About the legislation

HR 934 would require the Department of the Treasury to transfer additional funds to provide health benefits for retired coal miners. The bill adds miners affected by 2018 coal company bankruptcies to the group whose retiree health benefits are taken into account in determining the amount that Treasury must transfer under current law to the Multiemployer Health Benefit Plan.

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts called the committee action, “a tremendous first step for our retirees whose pensions and health care are under threat. Today’s vote is the culmination of a lot of hard work and action by our members and our allies on Capitol Hill.”

HR 934 was sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA, HR 934) and received bi-partisan support from House members.

Roberts cited the Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the Ranking Member, Rob Bishop (R-UT) as key supporters of the legislation.

If Congress doesn't act-

He urged the House to take action on the bill as soon as possible, so that the legislation can be sent to the Senate and acted upon this year.

“Failure by the full Congress to pass HR 934 will cause 1,200 retirees to lose their health care at the end of this year. The pensions of 82,000 current and 10,000 future retirees could be slashed within months if HR 935 is not passed this year.”