Black lung funding included in Senate-passed climate, health, and tax reform bill
OAK HILL, W.Va. (WVVA) - After a marathon session of voting in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping climate, health, and tax reform bill on Sunday. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia, played a major role in the compromise being called the “Inflation Reduction Act.’
Among provisions included in the bill is a long-term funding solution for the federal Black Lung Fund.
Sam Petsonk, a public interest attorney who fights for miners to receive the benefit, said the funding had been in jeopardy up until Sunday after Congress allowed a coal company excise tax to expire last January. It was included in Sunday’s Senate-passed bill.
“This change ensures there’s enough money to pay medical benefits for miners forever.”
Petsonk said it is the coal company’s responsibility to pay for black lung treatment while still in operation. But once these coal companies go bankrupt or cease operations, the Black Lung Fund is there to continue providing the benefit for medical treatment.
Petsonk is calling the bill a win for the 8,000-10,000 West Virginia miners who rely on the funding.
“It’s the first time in my lifetime that America has adopted a comprehensive industrial policy investing in American power and the American people.”
The measure passed in the Senate through a fast-track process known as reconciliation. It still has go back to the U.S. House of Representatives, but is widely expected to pass.
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