Senator Claire McCaskill is the senior United States Senator from Missouri. This is her December 15, 2016 email newsletter. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we post these communications from your elected representatives please click here.
That’s the question Americans should always be asking their members of Congress—who are you fighting for?
For the record, here’s who I’m fighting for…
Billy Hull. He’s a retired coal miner with nearly 30 years working at the Peabody Coal Power Mine near Montrose, Missouri, who wrote me a letter earlier this year:
“My Wife and I, married 59 years fall under the Patriot Coal Companies Voluntary Employees Beneficial Association (VEBA). My wife Earlene is a 2 time cancer survivor and I suffered a stroke in 2012. If we lose our benefits it will be hard for us to afford our medicine cost. Due to the bankruptcy of both Peabody Coal Co. and the Patriot Coal Company the Patriot VEBA fund will be exhausted in late 2016 leaving us without pension and healthcare benefits…”
Mr. Hull isn’t alone. He’s one of thousands of retired coal miners and their widows whose pensions and healthcare—promised to them decades ago—are in jeopardy. They were made a promise and, through no fault of their own, are about to have the rug pulled out from under them. A handful of my colleagues and I have been trying to fix this crisis for months, with our bipartisan Miners Protection Act. And I figured we’d have some big-time help from President-elect Donald Trump, who’s vowed to help these miners.
But instead of seizing the last chance Congress had to fix the problem this year, U.S. House Republicans put a temporary bandage on these miners’ benefits and then left town for their Christmas vacations. Meanwhile, retired miners, widows, and their families across Missouri are left in limbo. I don’t know who these U.S. House Republicans are fighting for, but it’s not working Americans.
Our own Harry Truman—whose Senate seat I hold today—made a promise to these coal miners when he was President. I’m fighting to keep his promise. And I’m fighting for Missouri’s working families.