Fri, 02 Dec 2022 05:22:08 CST
The Senate has passed a bill to avert a nationwide rail strike that would have been catastrophic to the U.S. economy. The joint resolution passed 80-15 and codifies an agreement that was brokered by the Biden administration in September but was rejected by some of the unions.
The votes Thursday by the Senate came swiftly for the chamber where one senator can often force procedural moves to slow down a bill. The Senate voted Thursday afternoon 80-15 (with one senator voting “present”) to require the 12 railroad unions to accept a contract and avoid a potential railroad strike on Dec. 9. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden who had called on Congress to act on Monday.
The Association of American Railroads, representing the businesses that would shut down, had stated a rail strike would cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day.
Farm groups had been concerned about the impact for the movement of grain, fertilizer, ethanol and other products if the workers actually walk out. They were among hundreds of business groups that also had called on Congress to act.
“We are extremely relieved that Congress took action to head off a strike that would have had serious consequences for America’s farmers, who are grappling with an increase in input costs and barge rates due to severe drought conditions on the Mississippi River,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “Today’s actions are an excellent example of Congress working together to get things done on behalf of the American people.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the ag industry couldn’t afford a shutdown and Congressional intervention was needed “in order to keep this rail strike from occurring and keep goods and services moving across the country at the speed of commerce.” Cattle producers rely on rail service to transport essential feed, fuel, and fertilizer.
The House also passed the measure with bipartisan support. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for signature.
An amendment to add seven days of paid sick leave, which narrowly passed the U.S. House, was rejected by the Senate.