West Virginia Lawmakers Cite Fix for Retired Miner Benefits

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia lawmakers say the new congressional spending plan contains a permanent extension of health care benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners and widows whose medical coverage is set to expire this month.

Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin say it’s in the $1 trillion-plus spending bill to fund most federal operations through September.

In West Virginia, about 8,500 retired miners and their families face loss of benefits if Congress does not act.

Pension benefits have not been included. The miners’ pension and benefit funds have been depleted by coal company bankruptcies.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman brokered an agreement with the United Mine Workers of America to guarantee miners’ lifetime health and retirement benefits, a move that averted a lengthy strike by unionized workers.