Now that lawmakers have secured a permanent health care fix for more than 22,600 retired coal miners who were at risk of losing their health benefits, efforts are now focused on securing the endangered pensions of those same coal miners.

Legislation introduced last week in the U.S. Senate, called the Miners Pension Protection Act, would secure the nation’s retired miners pensions by shoring up the 1974 pension plan which is headed for insolvency due to coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis. The bipartisan legislation is being backed by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., U.S. Tim Kaine, D-Va., U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. 

The Miners Pension Protection Act will amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to transfer funds in excess of the amounts needed to meet existing obligations under the Abandoned Mine Land fund to the 1974 pension plan to prevent its insolvency.

“We cannot allow for this issue to be put off until the deadline only to punt it with extensions,” Manchin said.

We agree. Those retired coal miners who labored deep underground to help power our nation are more than deserving of the benefits they rightfully earned through their hard work. We urge Congress to act quickly in passing the bipartisan Miners Pension Protection Act.