This retired coal miner says Bernie Sanders is doing more to help him than Mitch McConnell

AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell represents a lot of current and former coal miners from his home state of Kentucky. So he probably wasn't happy to hear that at a town hall in nearby West Virginia, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders earned praise from coal industry workers for doing what McConnell won't.

"I'd never dreamed I'd get a chance to thank you personally for the bill that you cosponsored," a retired coal miner told Sanders on Monday during a televised town hall event hosted by MSNBC's Chris Hayes. 

The coal miner was referencing the Miners Protection Act, a bill introduced by Sanders, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and 24 other lawmakers from both parties. The bill would shore up health benefits for over 12,000 retired mine workers whose benefits are set to run out at the end of April. It would also help save their flagging pension plans.

Though several coal state Republicans, including West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, support the Miners Protection Act, McConnell does not. Instead he introduced his own separate legislation that would have taken similar measures to protect benefits for miners, but that included poison-pill provisions that keep Democrats from being able to support the bill.

"I'm one of those miners that will lose his health care at the end of April if they don't pass that law," the retired miner said.

"I think it's kind of ironic that a senator from the Northeast takes care of my benefits better than someone like Mitch McConnell."