WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) tonight voted to protect hard-earned retirement benefits for West Virginia miners by voting for final passage of a government funding bill known as the continuing resolution. The bill also includes critical resources to help West Virginia communities recover from the devastating June floods and fight the opioid epidemic.
Earlier this week, the House advanced the continuing resolution with only a four month extension of health care benefits for miners who would otherwise lose their health care on January 1, 2017. Tonight, Senators Capito and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced the Miners Protection Act as an amendment to the continuing resolution to permanently protect the health care and pension benefits of our nation’s miners, but unfortunately the Senate voted to end debate and amendments.
Once the opportunity to amend or change the continuing resolution ended, Senator Capito voted for final passage of the continuing resolution in order to extend miners’ health care for four months, avoid a government shutdown and help West Virginians suffering from flood damage and opioid addiction.
Senator Capito issued this statement following tonight’s vote:
“I am very disappointed that the continuing resolution only extends health care coverage to our miners for four months. Four months of health care is clearly not the result I wanted. It is not the result our miners wanted, nor is it the result they deserve. Yet, the only way to prevent thousands of West Virginians and miners across the country from losing their benefits in just a matter of weeks was to pass this funding bill.
“Shutting down the government would not have achieved the outcome we all want, and that’s protecting health benefits for West Virginia’s miners. There is much work to be done in the next Congress to address this issue and bring jobs back to our coal communities. I am committed to working with my colleagues and the new administration to accomplish those important goals.
“I also made a strong commitment to help West Virginians devastated by the June floods get the resources needed for their recovery. The funding I secured in this bill will provide significant assistance for flood ravaged parts of my state. Communities across West Virginia also need help to save lives and treat those who are recovering from addiction. The funding in this continuing resolution will bring much-needed relief to aid prevention, recovery and treatment efforts.”
The continuing resolution includes $1.8 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program to be used to rebuild areas impacted by natural disasters. It is estimated that West Virginia will receive tens of millions of dollars as a result.
West Virginia has the nation’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths. To combat the opioid epidemic, the continuing resolution directs $500 million to states for overdose prevention, recovery and treatment. This is the first half of the $1 billion, two-year opioid funding authorization that the Senate passed earlier this week as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.
The continuing resolution that passed the Senate by a vote of 63 to 36 funds the government through April 28, 2017 and now goes to the president to be signed into law.