September 10, 2019 Blog, Press Release

ICYMI: McConnell Said No to Money for Miners, Yes to Russian-Backed Plant

On Tuesday, Moscow Mitch continued to live up to his nickname.A report from the Daily Beast detailed how he blocked federal funds for coal miner pensions despite pushing for similar funds to be used  in an aluminum mill backed by controversial Russian company Rusal.

From the report:

In October 2018, McConnell, Rogers, and Kentucky officials announced that EastPark and Ashland would get $4 million. Then, in March 2019, the applicants confirmed that the $4 million would not go to funding general repairs but would instead go prepping for construction on the aluminum plant. 

“Ashland Alliance and EastPark will only be applying the $4 million to the Braidy Site preparation,” wrote Ashland Alliance president Tim Gibbs in an email from March 2019 reviewed by The Daily Beast. “The $4 million in AML funds will enable Braidy to complete the $14 million total investment to stabilize the site for high precision manufacturing.”

It is not clear when talks between Braidy Industries and Rusal began, but two sources with direct knowledge of the $4 million payout said McConnell went to bat for the applicants during the internal review process and was instrumental in helping them secure the federal funding.

During that same time period, Mitch McConnell blocked an amendment from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin that would have secure coal miners pensions and health care costs. According to the Daily Beast:

“There are amendments that benefit Americans and West Virginians that are being blocked by one person: Mitch McConnell,” Manchin said in a statement at the time. “He is the sole person that is blocking a vote on my amendment to… secure coal miners’ health care and pensions, even though it has bipartisan support and would better the lives of every West Virginian, Kentuckian and American.”

McConnell recently came under fire when it was disclosed that at least two top former-staffers had lobbied “Congress and the Treasury Department on the development of a new Kentucky aluminum mill backed by the Russian aluminum giant Rusal.”

“Mitch McConnell owes the public a personal explanation. Kentuckians are tired of hearing lectures from Washington D.C. staffers,” said Kentucky Democratic Party spokeswoman Marisa McNee “If Mitch has time to call in to a radio show to complain about his hurt feelings over a nickname, he’s got time to provide some answers to the public and spend more than 2 minutes with Kentucky coal miners who drove 10 hours to ask for his help.”