Griffith Statement on H.R.2403

Friday, October 21, 2016 – Congressman Morgan Griffith’s statement on the Coal Healthcare and Pension Protection Act of 2015, H.R.2403:

“Protecting the health benefits and pensions of coal miners is important.”

“The coal industry has been under attack by the Obama Administration, unlike any other industry.  Because of these attacks, and the low price of natural gas, many coal companies have been forced either into bankruptcy or to reduce benefits including pensions.  Because of these bankruptcies, historic principles established to secure some coal miners’ pensions, which date back as far as the Truman Administration, may no longer be sufficient.   In order to keep our commitment to coal miners covered under such deals, I agreed to cosponsor the Coal Healthcare and Pension Protection Act of 2015, H.R.2403, in June 2015.  Critics of this bill have appropriately pointed out that the funding for this bill comes from the interest on Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund money, which comes from all coal mines, not just a select few.  While I am in favor of the introduced  bill, there are several amendments being discussed which may make the bill better.  Both the House and the Senate bills are designed to be fair to our miners and amendments may be necessary in order to achieve this overall goal.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Coal Caucus, led by Representative David McKinley (R-W.Va.), and I look forward to working with the Senate sponsor of this bill,  Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).”

“It is important to note that because this bill uses interest from the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund money, it does not negatively impact efforts by myself, Representative Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), and others, to pass the RECLAIM Act.  The RECLAIM Act uses some Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund money in an effort to simulate economic development in the coalfields of Central Appalachia.”

“While I will continue to fight unreasonable regulations that unfairly target the coal industry, I support the effort to ensure coal miners receive the benefits they earned.  The reduction of unreasonable regulations, along with H.R.2403 and S.1714, will have the effect of bolstering our coal miners’ pension and health benefit plans.”

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