Coal-state lawmakers push to extend retired miners’ benefits


WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers from coal-mining states are pushing to extend health benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners and widows whose medical coverage is set to expire at the end of April.

Last December, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and other coal-state Democrats threatened to shut down the government over the issue. They pulled back that threat after winning a four-month extension that preserves benefits through April 30.

With lawmakers returning to the Capitol following a two-week recess, Manchin says the time for extensions is over.

But lawmakers have not reached agreement on extending the benefits. A plan pushed by GOP leaders in the House would extend health benefits for 20 months, through the end of 2018.

Manchin says Senate Democrats are against that idea because it’s only a partial fix.