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Congressman Evan Jenkins

Representing the 3rd District of West Virginia

REP. JENKINS: PROTECT BLACK LUNG BENEFITS

February 15, 2017
Press Release
“This is a promise we made to them and it is a promise we must keep.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) is calling on members of Congress to support his resolution to strengthen and protect black lung benefits for our miners, retirees and widows.

“As we draft health care reform here in Congress, I urge my colleagues to maintain these essential benefits – the essential black lung benefits for our miners and their families. I have introduced legislation to affirm our commitment to protecting the Byrd amendment and these critical black lung benefits. I introduced it last Congress too, and I’m committed and continuing to fight for it because we cannot let our miners down,” Rep. Jenkins said.

Rep. Jenkins’ resolution, H.Res. 26, reaffirms Congress’ commitment to preserving and protecting black lung benefits and the Byrd amendment as health care reform is drafted. The full text is available here.

“Just as we have relied on our miners to mine the coal that built the skyscrapers and won world wars, our miners should be able to rely on us. I urge my colleagues to support the protection of black lung benefits and to honor the hard work of our miners,” he said.

Please click here to watch the speech. The full transcript is below.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My home state of West Virginia has almost 20,000 coal miners. Tens of thousands more worked in the mines and are now enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

“They proudly mine the coal that powers our nation and puts food on their tables. These miners work hard every single day, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

“Our nation made them a promise – to take care of them if they developed black lung disease. And, for decades now, the federal government has guaranteed black lung benefits, and the so-called Byrd amendment seven years ago reiterated that commitment to our miners.

“As we draft health care reform here in Congress, I urge my colleagues to maintain these essential benefits – the essential black lung benefits for our miners and their families.

“I have introduced legislation to affirm our commitment to protecting the Byrd amendment and these critical black lung benefits. I introduced it last Congress too, and I’m committed and continuing to fight for it because we cannot let our miners down.

“While mine safety continues to improve, we must guarantee that our miners have the benefits they need in case they are diagnosed with black lung disease. These benefits provide critical support for our retired coal miners and their families – for some disabled miners, it may be the only income they have. In West Virginia, almost 5,000 families rely on these benefits.

“This is a promise we made to them and it is a promise we must keep.

“Just as we have relied on our miners to mine the coal that built the skyscrapers and won world wars, our miners should be able to rely on us. I urge my colleagues to support the protection of black lung benefits and to honor the hard work of our miners.”