Feb 28 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) received an award from the United Mine Workers of America recognizing his successful years-long effort to save the pension and healthcare benefits for thousands of retired coal miners and their families. A group of Southwest Virginia miners presented Sen. Warner with the coal-shaped award, celebrating the passage of Sen. Warner’s Bipartisan American Miners Act, which the President signed into law in December.
“With President Trump’s signature, the Bipartisan American Miners Act is now the law of the land, protecting healthcare and pension benefits for thousands of Southwest Virginia miners,” said Sen. Warner. “This award represents years of bipartisan work in Washington and the tireless efforts of the UMWA miners who advocated to protect the benefits they earned. I’m proud to have played a role in passing this legislation that officially honors America’s commitment our miners.”
The Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 was introduced by Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and a bipartisan group of Senators from mining states. It shores up the 1974 United Mine Workers of America Pension Plan – which was headed for insolvency due to coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis – and ensures that at-risk miners do not lose their healthcare due to the 2018 and 2019 coal company bankruptcies. The legislation amends the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to transfer excess funds from the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund to the 1974 Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. It also amends the Coal Act to include 2018 and 2019 bankruptcies in the miners’ healthcare fix that passed in 2017. These actions will secure the pensions of 92,000 coal miners and protect healthcare benefits for 13,000 miners.
Sen. Warner has been a longtime advocate for Virginia’s coal miners and their families. In 2017, Sen. Warner passed legislation securing healthcare benefits for more than 22,000 miners. In August 2018, he introduced and passed into law legislation to improve early detection and treatment of black lung disease among coal miners.