The Power 202: Mitch McConnell’s shock turnaround means coal miner’s pensions are much more safe


THE LIGHTBULB

A significant coal miner pension fund is in jeopardy after the nation’s largest non-public coal-mining firm filed for chapter final week.

However the practically 90,000 retired coal miners who’re on the verge of shedding their advantages subsequent yr simply obtained an unlikely savior: Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The Senate majority chief joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce a invoice meant to shore up the coal miners’ pension funds. He did so after months of stopping comparable laws from arising for a vote.

“I’ve spent my whole profession within the Senate combating for all Kentuckians,” McConnell stated in a speech on the Senate ground Thursday. “I’ve labored to guard coal communities from dangerous concepts and to advertise their future. And I’ll hold working with the Trump administration and with my colleagues on each side to assist our mining households.”

The turnaround comes after a collection of bankruptcies by coal-mining companies put the already imperiled funds of the United Mine Employees of America pension plan in an much more fragile state.

The coal miners’ union, which lobbied McConnell’s workplace for years to avoid wasting the pension plan, hailed the endorsement from the senator from Kentucky as a breakthrough.

“It’s definitely an incredible improvement,” stated Phil Smith, director for communications and governmental affairs for the UMWA.

The newest coal firm seemingly aiming to shed its pension obligations by means of chapter is Murray Power, the non-public coal firm owned by Bob Murray, a serious donor to President Trump. The agency filed for Chapter 11 safety final week.

McConnell’s invoice would take cash from a fund used to reclaim previous mines to assist fund the pension plan. The laws additionally ensures miners working for lately bankrupt coal firms don’t lose health-care protection.

The laws is sponsored by two fellow coal-state Republicans, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Rob Portman of Ohio. 

It is usually endorsed by a variety of Democrats, together with Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), who for months criticized McConnell for not mentioning a pension-saving invoice. 

“This isn’t an answer that may be held off any longer and we should act now,” Manchin stated in a press release.

One unresolved challenge is the destiny of a medical fund overlaying these ex-miners with a illness referred to as black lung. Manchin’s model of a coal miners’ invoice would have elevated taxes on coal manufacturing to fund this system, however McConnell’s laws doesn’t tackle the black lung fund.

One other open query is when the invoice would truly be introduced up for a vote. McConnell’s workplace declined to offer a timeline. He in all probability received’t have your complete GOP caucus behind him. A lot of Republican senators, similar to Mike Enzi of Wyoming, have opposed placing federal funding towards the pension plan.

Nonetheless, the coal miners’ union is assured the invoice can get the 60 votes it wants within the Senate to beat the specter of a filibuster.

“There are different Republicans who will assist the laws,” Smith stated.

POWER PLAYS

— Add one other to the record of 2020 candidates: Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is making ready to enter the Democratic presidential major race, months after saying he wouldn’t run, The Put up reviews.

  • Why now? “We now want to complete the job and be sure that Trump is defeated,” Howard Wolfson, a prime adviser to Bloomberg, instructed The Put up’s Matt Viser and Michael Scherer. “However Mike is more and more involved that the present area of candidates just isn’t nicely positioned to do this.”
  • An advocate for local weather causes: Bloomberg has been a robust advocate for local weather motion. In actual fact, when he introduced in March that he determined to not run for president, The Put up’s Michael Scherer wrote his advisers stated he determined he’d be capable of accomplish extra by means of political activism and philanthropic work, together with on local weather points. In April, he introduced a $5.5 million pledge to the United Nation’s local weather program. In June, he pledged $500 million to speed up the closure of the nation’s coal-fired energy vegetation.

— Mr. Gates goes to Washington: In different billionaire information, Microsoft co-founder Invoice Gates got here to Congress Thursday within the midst of a public sparing match with one in every of its members, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), over her wealth tax proposal. However he wasn’t there to speak wealth inequality per se. He as a substitute met with Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), the founders of the Senate Bipartisan Local weather Options Caucus, to speak about addressing local weather change and lowering emissions by means of agriculture and reforestation, in response to a launch from Coons’s workplace. 

— Commerce Division aides knew Alabama hurricane forecasters weren’t responding to Trump: New paperwork launched through public data request present the tweet from the company’s Birmingham, Ala., division that declared Hurricane Dorian wouldn’t hit the state was not meant to contradict Trump. Forecasters have been “responding to an inflow of calls from frightened residents and to not an earlier tweet from Trump,” The Put up’s Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman report. “Julie Kay Roberts, NOAA’s deputy chief of workers and communications director, was instructed on Sept. 2 concerning the motivation behind a tweet.” 

  • However they nonetheless rebuked them anways: “Senior aides on the Commerce Division compelled the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to publicly rebuke its climate forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., for contradicting President Trump’s feedback concerning the risk Hurricane Dorian posed to that state, even after NOAA knowledgeable them that the company’s meteorologists weren’t conscious on the time they have been contradicting the president,” Samenow and Freedman report. “… Realizing that the forecasters had no political motivations, [acting NOAA head Neil Jacobs] and Roberts tried however failed to dam the paragraph admonishing them, which originated from the Commerce Division.”

— EPA officers are in a standoff with the company’s watchdog: EPA officers have pushed again on accusations from the Workplace of the Inspector Normal that EPA Chief of Employees Ryan Jackson has refused to adjust to requests for data in ongoing audit and investigations associated to his actions.

  • The tit-for-tat: In a letter launched this week, Inspector Normal Charles J. Sheehan wrote: “To countenance open defiance even in a single occasion — a lot much less two, each by a senior official setting precedent for himself and all company workers — is ruinous.” In a letter to EPA chief Andrew Wheeler, Jackson wrote: “I’ve neither delayed nor refused to totally cooperate with EPA’s Inspector Normal.”
  • Why the standoff is notable: “The dispute, which entails two totally different probes, has escalated to a stage not seen in no less than six years,” The Put up’s Juliet Eilperin reviews. “One former senior EPA official stated that whereas the workplace has threatened to inform Congress about disputes a number of instances up to now, ‘usually, cooler heads prevailed earlier than that time.’”

What does the IG need to find out about Jackson in any case: The company’s inspector basic is wanting into whether or not the EPA chief of workers was concerned in destroying inner paperwork, Politico reviews. “The IG’s workplace is asking witnesses whether or not Jackson has routinely destroyed politically delicate paperwork, together with schedules and letters from folks like lobbyist Richard Smotkin, who helped prepare a visit for then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to Morocco when he was in workplace, in response to one of many sources, a former administration official who instructed investigators he has seen Jackson do this firsthand,” per the report. Jackson instructed Politico he was “unaware” of the investigation.

In the meantime, there’s an EPA-vs.-Home combat brewing: The EPA had a Tuesday deadline to reply to a request for paperwork from the Home Science, House and Expertise Committee associated to a chemical program. However the committee says whereas the company offered paperwork, they have been “non-responsive,” which may set the stage for a subpoena combat, the Hill reviews.

— It’s official: President Trump formally nominated Dan Brouillette, the deputy power secretary, to switch outgoing Power Secretary Rick Perry. “Dan has faithfully served as my Deputy, serving to to advance American power and place america as a world power chief,” Perry stated in a press release. “I totally endorse President Trump’s resolution to appoint him and urge the U.S. Senate to verify him.” Perry is about to depart his submit Dec. 1.

— Closing arguments in Exxon’s landmark trial: The oil and gasoline large’s legal professional argued in courtroom that the case, which alleges Exxon deceived traders concerning the monetary dangers of local weather change, was “meritless.” “The case is nearly a joke,” Theodore Wells stated, in response to Reuters. “But it surely’s a merciless joke, your honor, as a result of the reputations of lots of people have been harm and disparaged by the bringing of the criticism.” In the meantime, lawyer for New York State Jonathan Zweig stated the case “isn’t whether or not Exxon workers are good folks and even have been attempting their greatest … The query on this case is whether or not Exxon’s disclosures have been correct, and the proof exhibits they weren’t.”

DAYBOOK

Coming Up

  • The Home Pure Sources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of america holds a legislative listening to on Nov. 13.

EXTRA MILEAGE

— Coming quickly: Actor Mark Ruffalo will converse at an occasion hosted by The Washington Put up about his movie “Darkish Waters” that facilities on an legal professional, Rob Bilott, who fought chemical firm DuPont over water contamination in West Virginia. Join right here for a live-stream notification for the Nov. 19 occasion. Bilott can also be scheduled to hitch Ruffalo on the occasion.





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