U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, Jay Rockefeller and Congressman Nick Rahall (all D-W.Va.) issued the following statements today about their meetings with the families of the victims of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. Senator Manchin met with the families today, and Senator Rockefeller and Rep. Rahall met with the families on Wednesday.
"It was my honor and privilege to meet today with the families who lost loved ones in the Upper Big Branch mining tragedy, and to discuss what we can do together to make sure no other family has to suffer through what they've endured," Senator Manchin said. "In our state, we're absolutely and totally committed to the safety of every worker -- especially in our mining industry, which has faced so many tragedies over the last few years. Every worker in our state should get up in the morning and expect to come home safely to their loved ones at night. Anyone doing business in our state -- and across our nation -- must join us by making safety their No. 1 priority. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make that a reality."
"These families unfortunately know firsthand exactly why passing comprehensive mine safety legislation is so important," said Senator Rockefeller. "It was a privilege to meet with them yesterday, and it means so much that they have come to Washington to stress the need for stronger mine safety laws. I have been pushing to pass my bill for two years, but we have yet to see movement. That's absolutely unacceptable. One of the best ways to honor the miners who lost their lives on that tragic day at Upper Big Branch, is to do everything in our power to help prevent such a disaster from happening again. I will keep fighting to make that happen and pass a real reform bill. We cannot wait."
"It is my fervent hope that the Congress responds to the call from these family members and acts expeditiously to address the shortfalls in our national mine safety regime. After more than two years and multiple investigations, the loopholes in the law that contributed to the UBB disaster are understood and we know that most can be addressed through legislation already produced and awaiting action -- legislation I am cosponsoring," said Rahall. "We ought to move as expeditiously as possible to honor the memories of the victims of UBB and to ensure that no other miners' families will have to come to Congress and plead for help in the wake of a similar tragedy."