WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following comments today on the Senate floor regarding his efforts to protect the health care benefits of coal miner retirees:
“Yesterday the House passed a Continuing Resolution (C.R.) on a very large bipartisan basis with more than three-fourths voting in its favor. Let me repeat that. Three-fourths, a majority of both parties, voted for the legislation needed to keep the government open.
“Now, while some Senate Democrats may want to delay into a government shutdown, House Democrats overwhelmingly rejected that approach….And, of course, it includes provisions that will guarantee that retired coal miners in Kentucky and other states won’t lose their health benefits at the end of this month.
“Would I have preferred that provision to be more generous? Of course I would have.
“My request to the House was to fund it for a full year. But we’ll be back at it in April, and I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll take it away.
“Just as I would have preferred that so many miners’ places of employment hadn’t been driven into bankruptcy in recent years, which as we all know is due in no small part to President Obama, his policies, and the overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats who support all those policies that have been a huge factor in creating the dilemma that we have in coal country, in Ohio, in Kentucky, in West Virginia.
“Most of the Senate Democrats support the war on coal.
“It’s been my intention that the miner health benefits not expire at the end of April next year. As I just said, I’m going to work with my colleagues to prevent that. But this is a good time to take “Yes” for an answer.
“We should pass the C.R. without delay. Because if we don’t pass the C.R., the health benefits will go away at the end of this month. The house is gone. They are through for this session.”