Miner union health care bailout snuck into Sec. 167 of continuing resolution at last moment

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this statement said Sec. 167 of the continuing resolution covered pension and health care benefits of the United Mine Workers of America, but it only covers health care benefits.

Dec. 12, 2016, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government senior editor Robert Romano today issued the following statement blasting inclusion of a bailout for the United Mine Workers of America union in Sec. 167 of the continuing resolution at the last minute:

“Americans for Limited Government is disappointed that at the last possible minute, a bailout for the United Mine Workers of America health care plan was included in the continuing resolution. Senators Joe Manchin, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, and Mark Warner publicly promised to deny unanimous consent on a lot of bills that were left to the last minute of the lame duck session unless the United Mine Workers of America’s pension and health care plans were bailed out — and they got some of what they wanted with the health care benefits being covered through April. The bailout was included in the continuing resolution on the House side. House leadership had to consent to this, an unbelievable decision. How about saying no for a change?

“This is why lame duck sessions of Congress are evil and should be abolished. They create more govern-by-crisis scenarios where, under the threat of government shutdowns and more, bills that might never pass an up or down basis are shoved into legislation or passed unanimously as a grab bag at the last minute with no oversight or even public knowledge. Just look at all the bills that passed unanimously in the Senate on Dec. 9 and 10 but are not listed under so-called ‘votes’ on Senate.gov that constituents could hold their senators accountable for. If these bills are so popular why not bring them up under regular order? And supposed serious think tanks actually support lame duck sessions as ‘the best time to make tough decisions, especially those that are likely to rub special interests the wrong way’? Who are they kidding? What a joke.

“There was no oversight, no conversation about this bill prior to its inclusion in the continuing resolution, which passed the House and Senate overwhelmingly. It was simply Manchin threatening other favored bills at the last minute that compelled taxpayers to issue another bailout to a defined benefit plan that was in over its head by $5.6 billion. How many other defined benefit plans will be getting bailed out? Or will it just be the ones Manchin selects? Or just the ones that might hold up unanimous consent of other taxpayer subsidized pet projects? Either way, taxpayers are getting screwed.”

Attachments:

“Senators Vow to ‘Use Any Means Necessary’ to Ensure Taxpayer Bailout of Private Union Pension Plan,” by Rachel Greszler, Dec. 7, 2016 at http://dailysignal.com/2016/12/07/senators-vow-to-use-any-means-necessary-to-ensure-taxpayer-bailout-of-private-union-pension-plan/

“Why a Coal Miner Pension Bailout Could Open the Door to a $600 Billion Pension Bailout for All Private Unions,” by Rachel Greszler, Aug. 2016 at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2016/08/why-a-coal-miner-pension-bailout-could-open-the-door-to-a-600-billion-pension-bailout-for-all-private-unions

Section 167 of the Continuing Resolution, Dec. 8, 2016 at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2028/text

“Sec. 167. Miners Health Benefits.

“(a) In general.—This section may be cited as the “Continued Health Benefits for Miners Act”.

“(b) Inclusion of certain retirees in the Multiemployer Health Benefit Plan.—Section 402(h)(2)(C) of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1232(h)(2)(C)) is amended—

“(1) by striking ‘A transfer’ and inserting the following:

“ ‘(i) TRANSFER TO THE PLAN.—A transfer’ ;

“(2) by redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) as subclauses (I) and (II), respectively, and moving such subclauses 2 ems to the right; and

“(3) by striking the matter following such subclause (II) (as so redesignated) and inserting the following:

“ ‘(ii) CALCULATION OF EXCESS.—The excess determined under clause (i) shall be calculated—

“ ‘(I) except as provided in subclause (II), by taking into account only those beneficiaries actually enrolled in the Plan as of December 31, 2006, who are eligible to receive health benefits under the Plan on the first day of the calendar year for which the transfer is made; and

“ ‘(II) for purposes of the transfer made for fiscal year 2017, as if, for the period beginning January 1, 2017, and ending April 30, 2017, only—

“ ‘(aa) those beneficiaries actually enrolled in the Plan as of the date of the enactment of the Continued Health Benefits for Miners Act who are eligible to receive health benefits under the Plan on January 1, 2017, other than those beneficiaries enrolled in the Plan under the terms of a participation agreement with the current or former employer of such beneficiaries; and

“ ‘(bb) those beneficiaries whose health benefits, defined as those benefits payable directly following death or retirement or upon a finding of disability by an employer in the bituminous coal industry under a coal wage agreement (as defined in section 9701(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986), would be denied or reduced as a result of a bankruptcy proceeding commenced in 2012 or 2015,

were taken into account, and for any other period during such fiscal year, only the beneficiaries described in subclause (I) were taken into account.

“ ‘(iii) ELIGIBILITY OF CERTAIN RETIREES.—Individuals referred to in clause (ii)(II)(bb) shall be treated as eligible to receive health benefits under the Plan for the plan year that includes January 1, 2017.

“ ‘(iv) REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSFER.—The amount of the transfer otherwise determined under this subparagraph for fiscal year 2017 shall be reduced by any amount transferred for the fiscal year to the Plan, to pay benefits required under the Plan, from a voluntary employees’ beneficiary association established as a result of a bankruptcy proceeding described in clause (ii)(II).

“ ‘(v) VEBA TRANSFER.—The administrator of such voluntary employees’ beneficiary association shall transfer to the Plan any amounts received as a result of such bankruptcy proceeding, reduced by an amount for administrative costs of such association.’ .

“(c) Preservation of payments to States and Indian tribes.—Subparagraph (B) of section 402(i)(3) of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1232(i)(3)) is amended—

“(1) by striking ‘so that’ and inserting ‘under paragraph (1) so that’;

“(2) by striking ‘each transfer’ in clause (i) and inserting ‘each such transfer’; and

“(3) by striking ‘this subsection’ in clause (iii) and inserting ‘paragraph (1)’.

“(d) Budgetary effects.—

“(1) STATUTORY PAYGO SCORECARDS.—The budgetary effects of this section shall not be entered on either PAYGO scorecard maintained pursuant to section 4(d) of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

“(2) SENATE PAYGO SCORECARDS.—The budgetary effects of this section shall not be entered on any PAYGO scorecard maintained for purposes of section 201 of S. Con. Res. 21 (110th Congress).

“(3) CLASSIFICATION OF BUDGETARY EFFECTS.—Notwithstanding Rule 3 of the Budget Scorekeeping Guidelines set forth in the joint explanatory statement of the committee of conference accompanying Conference Report 105-217 and section 250(c)(8) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, the budgetary effects of this section shall not be estimated—

“(A) for purposes of section 251 of such Act; and

“(B) for purposes of paragraph (4)(C) of section 3 of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 as being included in an appropriation Act.

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at 703-383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts.

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