House passes Biden-backed bill to avert rail strike

By | November 30, 2022

The US House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday to avert a nationwide railroad strike, but questions remain over whether the effort can clear the Senate 50-50.

By a vote of 290 to 137, House lawmakers voted to pass legislation preventing nearly 100,000 railroad workers from striking in early December. Economists and the White House have warned that a rail strike could cripple the country’s economy ahead of the holiday season.

“We must act to prevent a catastrophic attack that would affect the lives of nearly every family,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The legislation grants train drivers and conductors of unionized trains three unpaid sick leave per year for medical appointments, provided employers are given at least 30 days’ notice. It’s based on a deal that rail companies and transport unions agreed to in September. While eight unions have already adopted the agreement, four have not.

BIDEN’S PUSH TO AVOID NATIONAL RAILWAY STRIKE FACES OPPOSITION FROM PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS

President Joe Biden

“A rail closure would devastate our economy,” President Biden said. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The stalemate between the resistant unions and the railroad companies could not be resolved, even with the increasing involvement of White House officials. President Biden said the failure to achieve a breakthrough forced him to ask Congress to step in and prevent an attack.

PELOSI, SCHUMER AGREE TO CHANGE RAILWAY UNION BILL ‘AS SOON AS POSSIBLE’ AFTER WHITE HOUSE MEETING

“I call on Congress to immediately pass legislation to adopt the Interim Agreement between Rail Workers and Operators – without any modifications or delays – to avoid a potentially crippling national rail shutdown,” Biden said Monday in a statement.

“A rail closure would devastate our economy,” Biden said. “Without freight railroads, many American industries would close.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi answers questions from reporters during a press conference

“We must act to prevent a catastrophic attack that would affect the lives of nearly every family,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin/AP Newsroom)

Progressives criticized Biden’s decision to ask Congress to intervene. Far-left parliamentarians such as Senator Bernie SandersI-Vt., say Biden’s call for Congress to pass legislation preventing nearly 100,000 railroad workers from striking was inappropriate as unions were still pushing for broader paid sick leave.

“If the rail industry can afford to spend $25.5 billion this year to buy back its own shares and distribute huge dividends to its wealthy shareholders, please don’t tell me it can’t afford to secure licenses. paid medical care to their workers and provide them with a decent quality of life,” said Sanders.

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said President Biden’s call for Congress to pass legislation preventing nearly 100,000 railroad workers from striking was inappropriate as unions were still pushing for broader paid sick leave. (AP photo/Matt Rourke)

The House also on Wednesday passed a separate bill 221-207 that gives railroad workers an additional seven days of sick leave. It remains to be seen whether he will be included in the version that the Senate split 50-50 will adopt.

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In the upper house, at least 10 Republican votes are needed for legislation to overcome a filibuster, provided all 50 Democrats are in line.

Kelly Laco of FOX Business contributed to this report.

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