Warner, Kaine, Manchin, Jones, Brown, Casey Introduce Legislation to Secure Black Lung Disability Trust Fund
Jan 10 2020
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Doug Jones (D-AL), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced S. 3172, the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act of 2020 which would extend the black lung excise tax through December 31, 2030 to ensure that coal miners suffering from the disease have access to the medical care that they desperately need. Without the revenue from this tax, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is at risk of future insolvency at a time when the nationwide prevalence of black lung is increasing.
“Every day our coal miners risk their lives to provide America with the energy we need to be the most powerful nation in the world and as a result, many of these brave miners have Black Lung Disease. Now, it’s our turn to support them and ensure that they receive the treatment and medical care they need. That is why I am proud to introduce the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act of 2020 with my fellow colleagues to extend the black lung excise tax and secure the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for our coal miners across America who have given so much. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this legislation and send it to the President’s desk,” said Senator Manchin.
“Alabama has nearly 3,000 coal miners, and we need to make sure that they are able to receive the care they need if they develop Black Lung disease. This bill is an important step towards making sure they have the resources they need in order to receive treatment for this disease,” said Senator Jones.
“Last year, we were proud to help secure miners’ health care and pension benefits in the annual government spending bill. This bill also extended funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund through December 2020, providing some temporary relief for coal miners. However, as these miners and their families know, a one-year extension is not enough,” said Senator Warner. “Our coal miners have sacrificed so much in order to fuel our nation and they deserve to know that this critical funding won’t run out at the end of the year. Our legislation would further extend this funding through 2030 and provide peace of mind for miners who rely on the fund to get the care they need.”
“Miners put everything on the line to help power this nation each and every day. This disability trust fund is an effort to support their tireless work and help ensure those suffering from black lung can get much needed treatment,” Senator Kaine said.
“Ohio miners have put their health at risk for years to power our country,” said Senator Brown. “Congress must now do its part and extend the black lung tax, so we can ensure these minors have access to the care and resources needed to prevent and treat black lung disease.”
Coal miners have done some of most difficult work there is to power our country. The Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act of 2020 would ensure the continuity of the trust fund, especially given the resurgence of Black Lung Disease, so the fund can continue to provide miners with Black Lung Disease the health and disability benefits they need,” said Senator Bob Casey. “I will keep fighting to make sure that Congress keeps its promise to take care of our miners.”
Background on the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund:
- The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is financed primarily by an excise tax on coal produced and sold domestically. This tax was first established in 1978 at $0.50 per ton on underground-mined coal, and $0.25 per ton on surface-mined coal. The funding was later raised to $1.10 per ton for underground-mined coal and $0.55 per ton for surface-mined coal.
- Due to congressional inaction, on December 31, 2018, the tax rate reverted back to $0.50 per ton on underground-mined coal and $0.25 per ton on surface-mined coal, representing a 55% reduction.
- In December of 2019, Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed into law, an end-of-year spending package that included a one-year extension of the 2018 tax rates. These rates are set to expire on December 31, 2020.