Earlier this year, US senators. Joe Manchin, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey Jr. presented the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Act of 2021, which would extend the black lung excise tax by 10 years. The introduction of this bill came after months of organization and advocacy by the Black Lung Association, as well as supporters including Appalachian Voices and Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center.
Now, the miners are asking their supporters to join the Black Lung Association in a campaign to call for U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito to sign as a co-sponsor of the bill.
To speak with Senator Capito’s staff, call 347-767-2063. You will hear a short message and then be logged into Capito’s office. Please be polite and tell the senator’s staff that you want her to co-sponsor the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund Act.
The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund pays for medical benefits and provides a small monthly living allowance for coal miners disabled with black lung disease and their surviving dependents, when the responsible business no longer exists or has gone bankrupt. More than $ 40 million in benefits were distributed to families in West Virginia by the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund in 2020, and more than $ 149 million was distributed nationwide. Without congressional action, the excise tax will be halved at the end of the year.
“Everyone’s saying how we have to support coal in West Virginia, but people don’t realize that they don’t really support miners, just businesses,” said Gary Hairston, president of the National Black Lung Association and Fayette County Chapter. . “We need everyone to know what the black lung is doing to us and that we need their support.”
Currently, all of the bill’s co-sponsors are Democrats from coal-producing states. As a West Virginia Republican, Capito’s support would dramatically improve the chances of the bill being passed.
“If Senator Capito joined with Senator Manchin on this, it would let everyone know that this is not one party,” Hairston said. “This is something the people of West Virginia really need. I really hope they will come to an agreement on this.
Since its inception in 1978, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund has paid more money than the excise tax to black lungs. the care and benefits of underage black lungs are borne by the average American taxpayer rather than the companies responsible for the disease.
“If we do not get this bill passed, the debt will continue to pile up,” said Hairston, who worked for three decades in the mines before becoming disabled with black lung. “Sooner or later businesses will pay nothing and the taxpayer will have to pay everything. We need Senator Capito to support the 10-year extension so that we don’t have to worry about whether our benefits will continue to be funded.
“I am grateful that my senators, Kaine and Warner, support this legislation,” said Vonda Robinson, vice president of the National Black Lung Association and wife of a minor with black lung in Scott County, Virginia. “This problem affects us all, no matter what state we live in. So we should all call Sen.Capito and ask him to support us on this matter.”
To participate in the appeal effort, dial 347-767-2063. You will hear a short message from the Black Lung Association and then be logged into Capito’s office. Please be polite and tell the senator’s staff that you want Capito to co-sponsor the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund Act.
Support minors with black lung: Call 347-767-2063