September 15, 2017

Manchin Statement on West Virginia House Delegation Voting Against Mine Safety Funding

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the West Virginia House of Representatives Members voting against mine safety funding.

“The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is vital to protecting miners who put their lives on the line to power our nation. And this year, House appropriators gave MSHA $8 million less than recent years.  And, if it had passed, an amendment sponsored by Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina and supported by all 3 West Virginia House Members would have cut that number by another painful 10 percent. The MSHA overall budget has already experienced decreases and even the smallest cuts are painful.  

“Rightsizing” an agency’s budget to reflect the decline in coal production only makes sense if that agency is successful in its mission across the board – mine safety. But mine deaths are on the rise this year - twelve miners have already died with six of those deaths occurring in our state. I am disgusted that any member of Congress would vote against programs that keep miners safe, but I simply can’t comprehend why Congressmen from our state of West Virginia, a coal state, would vote against miners’ safety.

“In the Senate, my colleagues and I on the appropriations committee included $373.8 million for MSHA with $160 million for mine safety and enforcement programs, which is $3 million more than MSHA requested.  We recognize the vital importance that MSHA serves to the health and lives of our miners.   

“As someone who has sat with families as they waited to hear news of their loved ones trapped in mines and as they heard the news that their husband, son, brother or father had passed in a mine accident, I am appalled that the West Virginia Delegation in the House voted to cut critical mine safety funding. These West Virginia Members know coal miners, know their families, and have toured coal mines.  I can’t for the life of me understand why they would be against protecting their own or cutting the budget at their expense. As a born and bred West Virginian and as someone who mourned the loss of many coal miners – including my own family - because of accidents that could have been prevented, I will not stand idly by and let this funding be taken away by the very people who have promised time and time again to fight for these miners. As I always have, I will fight for them and do everything in my power to make sure that our miners’ health and safety is the number one priority.”