WASHINGTON – Today, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairwoman Alma Adams (NC-12), introduced the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act of 2019 (H.R. 3876). This legislation would extend the black lung excise tax, which expired at the end of last year, to fund future benefits and health care for miners suffering from black lung disease.
Without revenue from the tax, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is at-risk of becoming insolvent at a time when the number of black lung cases is rapidly increasing. A May 2018 GAO report found that failure to extend the tax rate will increase the Fund’s debt from approximately $5 billion to $15 billion by 2050.
“History shows that miners and their families will be forced to pay the price in the form of reduced eligibility for benefits if Congress allows the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to sink deeper into debt,” said Chairman Scott (VA-03). “The Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act of 2019 substantially reduces that risk by protecting the long-term sustainability of the Trust Fund, while ensuring that the coal industry does not shift the cost to taxpayers. Given the recent rise in the most severe form of black lung disease, Congress must take action to secure future benefits and health care for disabled miners.”
The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is financed primarily by a tax on coal produced and sold domestically. The tax was first established in 1978 at $0.50 per ton on underground coal, and $0.25 per ton on surface coal. The funding was later raised to $1.10/ton for underground coal and $0.55/ton for surface coal.
Due to congressional inaction, however, on December 31, 2018, the tax rate reverted back to $0.50 per ton on underground coal and $0.25 per ton on surface coal—a 55 percent reduction. The Fund is already approximately $5 billion in debt. The Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act would extend the black lung disease tax through December 31, 2029 to ensure that miners and black lung disease victims have access to the care and treatment they need.
To read the fact sheet, please click here.
To read the bill text, please click here.
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