Senate votes to avert rail strike, sending deal to Joe Biden’s desk

The Senate voted 80-15 to avert a railroad strike by voting in favor of a deal President Joe Biden negotiated just before the holiday season, but voted against granting railroads seven days of sick leave.

The vote comes after the House approved the deal on Wednesday after Biden asked Congress to step in to prevent a strike.

Mr. Biden had announced a tentative agreement between railroad unions and rail companies in September. But four of the 12 participating unions rejected the deal, wanting seven days of paid sick leave.

“Decided action by Congress ensures that we avoid imminent, devastating economic consequences for workers, families and communities across the country,” Biden said in a statement after Thursday’s vote. “Communities will maintain access to clean drinking water. Farmers and ranchers will continue to be able to bring food to market and feed their animals. And hundreds of thousands of Americans in a number of industries will keep their jobs.”

As a result, the House voted to prevent the railroad strike, while it voted separately to provide seven days of paid sick leave to railroads, with both measures approved. If the vote had not taken place by December 9, workers would have gone on strike, which Mr Biden warned would cost 765,000 jobs, including many union positions.

On Thursday, Labor Secretaries Marty Walsh and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the Senate to discuss the vote and plan to avoid a railroad strike.

In total, 80 senators voted to prevent the strike, while 15 voted against. Initially, some senators wanted to allow a 60-day waiting period to allow both railroad companies and unions to continue bargaining in good faith.

“I think a better approach is to send all, you know, all the issues back to the negotiating table,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Republican. The independent. But the amendment failed 69 to 26.

In addition, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed an amendment to allow paid sick leave for railroad workers. However, Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, opposed the amendment on the grounds that the government should not interfere in labor disputes.

Ultimately, the bill received 52 yes votes but did not pass a filibuster. Republican senators Mike Brown of Indiana, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana voted for it.

“Well, the good news is that the House of Representatives has voted to guarantee paid sick days to workers in the rail industry,” Mr. Sanders said. The independent. “We had all the Democrats except one. And we had six Republicans. And I’m proud of that.”

Mr. Cruz accused the White House of saying the deal was done in September before the midterm elections.

“It turned out that he was deliberately misleading the American people, and what he meant was that he had kicked the can down the road a few weeks to pass after Election Day,” he said. The independent. “And the White House was left with a mess where they convinced all the Democrats to tell the unionized workers to be sober. “

Ultimately, Mr. Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, joined Democratic senators John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Kirsten Gillirband of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon in opposing the final deal to prevent a strike.

Additionally, Republican Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, Bill Haggerty of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Rick Scott of Florida, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Pat Tomei of Pennsylvania, Cruz and Rubio voted against the deal. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted “present.”

Mr. Biden welcomed the Senate’s passage of the strike-preventing legislation.

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