Senate panel backs bill to protect miners’ retirement funds

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Photo Courtesy: MGN Online

MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – An election-year bill to protect health care and pension benefits for about 120,000 retired coal miners and their families has moved forward in the Senate.

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The Senate Finance Committee approved the measure Wednesday, 18-8.

Six Republicans, including Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, joined all 12 Democrats in endorsing the bill. Supporters say it would save lives and honor a 70-year-old promise made by the federal government.

The measure has divided coal-state Republicans. Several endangered Republican incumbents support the bill, but GOP leaders – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – are wary of bailing out unionized workers.

The bill would ensure retired miners receive more than $250 million a year in benefits now at risk amid the coal industry’s steep decline and bankruptcies of several large companies.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.