Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed on Saturday to keep fighting for legislation to save health and pension funds for retired coal miners, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to join the fight.
According to a Washington Post report published in February, McConnell blocked Senate consideration of a measure that would have ensured more than 90,000 retired and disabled miners would still receive funds from the United Mine Workers of American health insurance and retirement funds.
These funds have been jeopardized by the economic struggles of mining companies, which includes several bankruptcies.
A plan to keep the funds solvent and safe almost made it through Congress last December, however McConnell, the senior senator from Kentucky, pulled the provision from the packet, according to The Washington Post..
Sanders, meanwhile, had introduced a separate bill last year that would protect the pensions of mine workers and 1.5 million other workers throughout the country in troubled, multi-employer pension plans.
Speaking in Kentucky on Saturday, Sanders cited McConnell’s role in blocking help for retired miners during a stop at a campaign field office, part of a series of Sanders events this weekend in one of two states holding Democratic Party presidential primary elections on Tuesday.
There are 55 pledged delegates at stake here and 61 in Oregon, the other state where Democrats will go to the polls on Tuesday.
“We cannot allow the pension and retirement benefits of the United Mine Workers of America to be slashed,” Sanders said. “When a worker is promised a pension we have a responsibility to make sure that promise is not broken. Senator McConnell should drop his opposition to this deal and save the pension benefits of more than 90,000 coal miners in this country and he should do it now.