ICYMI: COAL MINERS URGE MANCHIN TO ACT ON RECONCILIATION BILL TO EXTEND BLACK LUNG FUNDING

“If we don’t get something passed, we’ve got to wait until next year to get something done. So we need Joe on board with us today.” — Gary Hairston, president of the National Black Lung Association

POLLING75% of Voters — Including 65% of Republicans — Support Reconciliation Bill Lowering Energy, Prescription Drug, and Health Care Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Coal Miners are urging West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to work to pass a reconciliation package that includes funds for coal miners suffering from black lung disease, according to an article published in The Hill. The excise tax that funded the program expired in January, putting tens of thousands of coal miners with the disease at risk, including many in West Virginia.

Every week, the trust fund that assists miners with black lung disease loses $2.8 million. Until a reconciliation bill is passed, the health of miners in West Virginia and across the country remains at risk.

Read coverage here.

KEY QUOTES:  

  • Advocates say that the trust fund is losing $2.8 million per week without an excise tax extension, and the fund’s mounting debt could cause Congress to cut off miners’ benefits in the future. 

  • Roughly 1 in 5 coal miners in central Appalachia suffer from black lung disease, advocates say, which is caused by miners inhaling toxic coal and silica dust on the job. Doctors haven’t found a cure to the deadly disease, which slowly cuts off oxygen flow. 

  • “That bill is not going to move. It’s gonna have to be included in a package, and right now this is the only package that has been proposed that would fit this bill,” Courtney Rhoades, an organizer at the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, said during a Thursday press conference in Charleston. 

  • “If we don’t get something passed, we’ve got to wait until next year to get something done,” said Gary Hairston, president of the National Black Lung Association. “So we need Joe on board with us today.” 

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The operation consists of two components: Invest in America, the charitable and public education arm, which is a fiscally sponsored project of Economic Security Project funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Economic Security Project co-chair Chris Hughes; and Invest in America Action, the advocacy and social welfare arm, which is a fiscally sponsored project of Economic Security Project Action funded by Chris Hughes and the Omidyar Network.

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