Portman, Brown Secure Commitment for Vote on Miner's Protection Act

June 30, 2016 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced they had secured a commitment from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to hold a committee markup and vote on the Miner’s Protection Act – which would protect the hard-earned pensions of our nation’s coalminers – as early as next month and no later than September.  The commitment to hold a vote came after Portman and Brown and a group of bipartisan Senators made clear they would oppose moving forward on legislation to help Puerto Rico unless the Senate also made mineworkers in Ohio, West Virginia, and elsewhere a top priority.

“I’ve said all along: If we’re going to help Puerto Rico, we should also be helping the 90,000 coal miners in Ohio, West Virginia who need help as well,” said Portman.  “This is a victory for our coalminers and I believe the Senate Finance Committee will approve the measure on a bipartisan basis. We must protect the health and pension benefits that our miners have earned, and I will continue to work with Senator Brown and our colleagues on a bipartisan basis until this bill becomes law.”

“Ohio coal miners earned these pensions for a lifetime for hard, often unsafe work and we must do everything we can to protect their benefits and health care,” Brown said. “This vote is long overdue, and I will continue working to secure the bipartisan support to get this done. Senator Portman and I are fully committed to passing this bill so we can honor this promise to our miners.”  

NOTE: Portman and Brown, both members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, renewed their call to pass the Miner’s Protection Act during a colloquy on the Senate Floor with their bipartisan colleagues this week.  Portman and Brown are cosponsors of the Miners Protection Act to address the shortfall in the UMWA 1974 pension plan.  The UMWA’s 1974 pension plan was 94 percent funded prior to 2008. Due to many factors including the financial crisis and fewer active workers, the plan is now severely underfunded – putting the health care and benefits of retirees in jeopardy. If the plan becomes insolvent, retirees could lose their health care and see reductions in their monthly pension checks.  Despite the fact that the Miner’s Protection Act is a bipartisan, fully-paid-for solution to save the United Mine Workers of America’s (UMWA) pensions, the Senate has yet to hold a vote.