Manchin says Senate backing retired miners’ benefits


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin says the Senate backs permanently extending health benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners and widows whose medical coverage is set to expire after April.

Manchin says Wednesday the permanent fix will be included in the Senate measure to continue government funding with a vote likely Friday.

He says it will cost $1.3 billion.

Republican U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito says she’s confident the Senate will back a long-term fix.

Both say it doesn’t include miner pension benefits, while House Republican leaders are pushing a 20-month health care extension.

In West Virginia, about 8,500 retired miners and their families face loss of benefits if Congress does not act.

Other states affected include Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia and Alabama.