Senate advocates of a bill to protect mine worker pensions have at least won a commitment that a committee will take up the bill this year.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said late Wednesday that the pension bill, which had briefly been a threat to hold up needed assistance for Puerto Rico’s financial crisis, will be marked up by the Finance Committee in July or September.
“The Miners Protection Act is vital legislation for miners whose health care benefits will end later this year if Congress fails to act. With today’s announcement, I am confident that the Senate Finance Committee will approve the Miners Protection Act in the coming weeks, a major step towards seeing this bill become law,” the West Virginia Republican said in a statement.
That news came just as another Republican, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, was preparing to go up with a new radio ad touting the endorsement of the United Mine Workers, as he continues to push floor action on mine worker pensions.
“Why did the United Mine Workers endorse Rob Portman? This union that has historically supported Democrats is now standing with Portman because Portman is standing strong for Ohio coal families and Ohio coal country,” the radio ad says. “Sen. Portman is fighting back against EPA overreach and President Obama’s war on coal.”
The union has frequently backed Democratic senators and Senate candidates, making the endorsement of Portman a point the campaign is seeking to emphasize to voters in the coal-producing region of Southeast Ohio.
The ad also notes Portman challenger and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s work following his time as governor as president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a progressive group based in D.C.
Capito and Portman had been among the group of senators opposing the bill to address the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico, which the Senate cleared Wednesday, due to the unresolved issue of the mine worker pensions.
Now, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for the issue, but what advocates got from Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch of Utah falls short of an assurance that the measure will move from committee and get a debate and a vote on the floor.