It's Love for Coal, Not Workers as GOP Gives Miners 'Slap in the Face'

A bloc of Democratic U.S. Senators on Friday is threatening a temporary government shutdown over a short-term spending bill that shows Republicans’ love for coal extended not to the workers who’ve toiled in the mines.

The GOP-controlled House on Thursday easily passed the bill which extends healthcare benefits, but not pensions, to retired miners for four months.

But extending them just until April, said United Mine Workers of America International president Cecil E. Roberts, “is a slap in the face to all 22,000 of them who desperately need their health care next month, next year, and for the rest of their lives.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, who’s trying to short up opposition in his chamber to block it, called the four moths “not only a nonstarter” but “inhumane.”

Manchin and his allies are shooting for a one-year extension for the healthcare benefits guaranteed seventy years ago by President Harry S. Truman.

Calling for an end to the impasse, J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said that lawmakers should prevent a government shutdown by making sure the miners have access to the benefits and protections they rightfully earned.

“Our brothers and sisters at the United Mine Workers of America are facing a crisis that can be easily averted if senators do the right thing and include the full Miners Protection Act in the must-pass continuing resolution,” Cox said in a statement. “These hard-working men and women have earned their pensions and benefits, fair and square. The Senate needs to step up to the plate.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged the Democrats to just give in because he said his party members would extend the benefits again in April.