Mitch McConnell Blocks Kentucky Miners’ Pension Funds, Gives It To Russian Company Instead
Senate Majority Leader Mith McConnell doesn’t like his “Moscow Mitch” nickname, but these latest revelations might make it difficult to shed.
According to a report published by The Daily Beast, McConnell blocked a measure that would have funded pensions and health care for coal miners in his home state of Kentucky in order to fund an aluminum plant linked to a Russian oligarch.
According to the report, McConnell voted in January to lift sanctions on Rusal, a Russian aluminum company formerly headed by Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, and just days after the Treasury Department officially de-listed the company — it announced a $200 million investment in an aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky.
Democrats have raised questions about how much McConnell knew about the investment before he voted to lift sanctions. But, the website reported, McConnell’s connection to the Rusal-Braidy deal is deeper than previously understood.
The federal government has been giving Appalachian states millions of dollars since 2016 to help clean up abandoned coal mining land, and to assist in economic development there.
But McConnell and other Kentucky lawmakers, including Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), helped steer $4 million away from sewer and road repair in October 2018 to preparing for construction on the Russian aluminum plant.
McConnell then blocked a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would have pumped $4 million federal money into miner pensions, arguing that he wanted a more permanent fix to the pensions when he blocked Manchin’s bill, but he seemingly raided $4 million the Treasury fund to help start construction on the aluminum plant.
The Senate majority leader’s office defended the move, saying pensions should be addressed through a broader bipartisan measure, but coal miners are furious.
“We’re not ever going to quit until they give us what we’ve earned. We’re not going to quit until we get it,” said Dwayne Thompson, a retired Peabody Energy coal miner from Kentucky. “I hope Senator McConnell gets that.
Some miners believe McConnell blocked the pension funding because some union members had supported his 2014 opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and one union leader said Congress has been stalling on assistance to them for years.