Clinton backs bill to protect benefits for ex-coal miners

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton is supporting a bill that would protect health-care and pension benefits for about 120,000 former coal miners and their families.

The Democratic presidential candidate says in a statement that people who have spent their lives “keeping the lights on for our country” should not be left without benefits after they retire. The statement was obtained by The Associated Press.

Clinton’s statement comes as thousands of retired miners and their supporters are expected to gather at the Capitol on Thursday to push for the bill. Backers call it a life-saving measure that honors a 70-year-old promise from the federal government.

The measure has divided coal-state Republicans. Several endangered incumbents support the bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders are wary of bailing out unionized workers.

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