May 4, 2017 - U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., spoke Wednesday about the permanent solution to funding health care for retired coal miners and their widows.
The House of Representatives passed House Resolution 224 to fund the federal government through September. The bill includes increased defense spending, funding border security and money for natural disaster recovery in addition to the health care fix.
The final vote was 309-118. Republicans were most spilt on the measure, with 131 representatives voting in favor and 103 voting against the plan. On the other side of the aisle, 178 Democrats voted for the resolution and 15 voted “nay.”
Jenkins voted for the $1.2 trillion bill, as did Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.
“This agreement is yet another victory for West Virginia in this Congress, where we are stopping the Obama administration’s anti-coal policies,” Jenkins said in a statement.
More than 22,000 retired coal miners and their families will lose insurance coverage if a measure is not passed by midnight Friday.
On the Senate floor, Manchin thanked his colleagues from both parties for finding a permanent funding mechanism.
“I know the families and I know the sacrifices,” he said. “What you all saw was my passion of the people I grew up with.”
Manchin became emotional talking about the people he knew who worked in the coal industry, including a childhood neighbor who died in a mine explosion when the senator was 7 years old.
Manchin then told a story about the miner’s wife telling him about the explosion.
“She says — this is a tough one — she says, ‘He’s not going to come home,'” Manchin said.
He also thanked President Donald Trump for his support of the coal mining industry.
The Senate will have to pass the complete resolution before midnight on Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
The plan does not include a solution for funding miner pensions.