U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced the American Miners Pension Act (AMP Act). Senator Manchin led a press conference today with Senator Capito, Reps McKinley and Welch, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts and retired miners explaining the importance of this legislation and urging quick adoption.
"We have come together today to deliver on an unfinished promise. Earlier this year, we passed legislation to ensure the health benefits of 22,600 miners," Senator Manchin said. "These benefits are lifesaving to our nation's miners and their families and I was proud to fight successfully, shoulder to shoulder with them, to secure their health care. But our job isn't finished. The bill we will introduce today, the American Miners Pension Act, protects the pensions of nearly 87,000 current beneficiaries and another 20,000 eligible coal miners with vested pensions. These miners earned their pensions through a lifetime of the hardest work imaginable. They did so safe in the knowledge that they would find it waiting for them down the road for support in their retired years. Let's finish what we started and pass this fix to ensure our coal miners keep their hard-earned pensions."
"Earlier this year, we secured a major victory of permanent health care for our miners and their families. But that victory was only half the battle. Today, we took the next step by introducing the AMP Act, which will ensure these hardworking men and women receive the pensions they rightfully earned. I am always proud to stand with our miners through thick and thin -- especially our West Virginia miners -- and I will continue to stand with them today as we work to deliver the peace of mind they deserve," said Senator Capito.
"Congress needs to keep the promise made to our miners and protect the pension benefits these men and women earned with their sweat. More than 117,000 miners and their families are counting on us. Now that we've addressed the immediate threat to retirees' health care, we need to finish what we started and fix their troubled pension. Our retirees deserve peace of mind that the benefits they earned during their years in the mines will be there when they need them," said Congressman McKinley.
"For generations, coal miners have risked their lives to keep homes warm, lights on, and factories powered," said Congressman Welch. "We have a moral obligation to ensure that their hard earned pensions are there when they retire."
Currently, the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan is on the road to insolvency. The American Miners Pension Act will shore up the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan to make sure that nearly 87,000 retired miners receiving pensions, as well as another 20,000 who are vested, won't lose the pensions they have paid into for decades. In West Virginia alone, there are 26,967 pensioners who are at risk. The AMP Act would:
Uses the provision from the Miners Protection Act to allow transfers of excess funds in the Abandoned Mine Land program to the 1974 UMWA pension plan.
Direct the Treasury Department to loan the Pension Plan funds annually.
Cap the annual loan amount at $600 million and set the interest rate at 1%.
Require the fund to pay interest for the first 10 years and then pay back the principal plus interest over a 30-year term.
Require the fund to certify each year that the pension plan is solvent and able to pay back the principal and interest.