Report: McConnell blocked efforts to rescue health, pension funds for miners

Published: Feb. 12, 2016 at 12:43 AM EST
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A new report accuses Kentucky's senior senator of blocking legislation that would have saved health and pension funds for former coal miners.

Sen. Mitch McConnell in December pushed to remove from the budget deal a plan that would have made sure thousands of retired and disabled miners continue to receive their checks from the United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds, according to a

in The Washington Post.

More than 90,000 former coal miners and their families draw from the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds, according to the organization's website.

But with more coal companies declaring bankruptcy and fewer union miners to pay dues, some lawmakers are concerned about the funds running out and want Congress to take action to ensure that doesn't happen.

"It's only right," Rodney Adams, a former coal miner in Harlan County who receives a pension check through the UMWA, said in an interview with WYMT Thursday. "I don't care if you were a coal miner or not. Just look yourself in the mirror and see how you would feel if somebody took a big hammer and busted that mirror in front of you."

McConnell staffers did not deny the senator helped kill the measures that would have shored up miners' health and pension funds, The Post reported.

In response to the report, McConnell said in a statement to WYMT, ""I have been and remain committed to helping ensure the retirement security of our nation's coal miners as well as other retirees, and discussions are ongoing on how best to address this challenge. What I don't support is addressing this issue behind closed doors. This very important issue deserves open, transparent debate through regular order. In the meantime, I will continue my efforts to help our laid off coal miners, many of whom have lost their jobs as a result of this administration's war on coal."