Reid: Our Hearts Go Out To West Virginia Storm Victims

“It’s just hard to comprehend in the sparsely populated state that a storm could take 25 people, men, women and children and still there are people unaccounted for. So I express on behalf of the whole United States Senate the care, the feeling that we have for West Virginia.”

“Today, tens of thousands of miners and widows are in imminent danger of losing 100 percent of their promised health benefits. Their modest pension benefits are also at serious risk. A promise that has been kept for 70 years is about to be broken. We should not let that happen.” 

“The Senate should vote on the Mineworker Protection Act before we recess for our political conventions. A promise made by President Truman is a promise we should keep because a promise made should be a promise kept.”

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senator floor today calling on the Senate to take up the Mineworker Protection Act and offering support to the people of West Virginia following the recent storm in their state. Below are his remarks:

Just last month, we marked the 70th anniversary of President Truman’s historic promise to mineworkers. President Truman promised to provide lifetime health and pension benefits to coalminers in exchange for their continuing the back-breaking work that fueled our nation.

But today, tens of thousands of miners and widows are in imminent danger of losing 100 percent of their promised health benefits. Their modest pension benefits are also at serious risk. A promise that has been kept for 70 years is about to be broken. We should not let that happen.

There’s a bipartisan solution that would avert this crisis. Senator Manchin wants the Senate to vote on his Mineworker Protection Act – and so do I. If it is up to Senator McConnell, we are not going to be given a chance to vote before the Senate recesses, despite the gravity of the situation.

More than 3,000 miners and their supporters rallied in Lexington, Kentucky, just two weeks ago urging congressional action. The Senate should vote on the Mineworker Protection Act before we recess for our political conventions. A promise made by President Truman is a promise we should keep because a promise made should be a promise kept.

And as we work to help these families, we should not forget the many West Virginians who are fighting the devastating flooding that has ravaged that state. Twenty-five people have died in those floods. Our hearts go out to the victims and the families of those affected by the devastation.

I’ve spoken several times to the senior senator from West Virginia. It’s just hard to comprehend in the sparsely populated state that a storm could take 25 people, men, women and children and still there are people unaccounted for. So I express on behalf of the whole United States Senate the care, the feeling that we have for West Virginia. I want to be available here to do everything that I can to help the people of West Virginia. Senator Manchin is a great advocate and we’ll listen closely to follow his direction and guidance.

We also thank the many brave police officers, firefighters, EMTs and members of the National Guard who worked hard to prevent further loss of life. Many more people came close to dying. We’ve seen it all on television. We’ve read the stories. It’s really frightening that something like that could happen. I was told by Senator Manchin, this is a thousand-year storm. Nothing like that has ever happened before. Nine inches of rain in just a matter of hours. It’s a devastating thing for the people of West Virginia, but also for our country.