WASHINGTON — Ohio’s Democratic senator this week met with coal miners from four area counties as he continues to fight for the healthcare and pensions of retired mineworkers.

Sen. Sherrod Brown on Tuesday spoke with miners from Belmont, Coshocton, Harrison and Muskingum counties about efforts to advance the Miners Protection Act. Last month, Brown, Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and a number of senators from coal-mining states reintroduced legislation to protect the healthcare coverage and retirement security of 120,000 coal miners across the United States.

Brown said that he and the bill’s other co-sponsors agree, “It’s up to us to ensure that these workers and their families receive the full benefits they earned over a lifetime of backbreaking work.”

Despite the objections of senators from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the Senate in December passed a continuing resolution that included a four-month proposal to fund retired miners’ healthcare for the duration of the continuing resolution, which ends in April. The Miners Protection Act, as written, would have put into place a more long-term solution.

Sponsors of the bill say that the Miners Protection Act would amend the existing Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to transfer excess funds to the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. The legislation would also make certain retirees who lose health care benefits following the bankruptcy or insolvency of his or her employer eligible for the 1993 Benefit Plan.