President Joe Biden is expected to sign legislation this week to avoid a potentially catastrophic railroad strike after Congress approves the bill.
Biden pleaded with congressmen to act quickly, warning of serious damage to the supply chain that could threaten the US economy weeks before Christmas.
Needing 60 votes, the Senate passed the bill 80-15 on Thursday with R-Ky Senator Rand Paul. voting gift. The Senate acted swiftly, one day after it was approved by the House, with broad bipartisan support. Biden pressured lawmakers to pass the bill after pledging to strike by December 9 if railroad workers couldn’t reach an agreement.
“If action is not taken this week, disruptions to the automotive supply chain, the ability to move food to the table, and the ability to remove hazardous waste from gasoline refineries will begin,” he said.
The Senate rejected Amendments 52-43, advocated by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The amendment added seven days of paid sick leave to the deal for railroad workers.
“To be clear, this struggle is not over,” Sanders said after the sick leave amendment failed. “It is a pity that railroad workers do not have a single day of paid sick leave, even though it is the largest ever in the railroad industry.”
Some progressives and even a number of conservatives opposed legislative amendments mediated by the Biden administration in September, and some cited union opposition. Four of the 12 railroad unions rejected the deal, and Biden urged Congress to intervene when dialogue between workers and employers seemed to stall.
“Working together, we have saved this country from Christmas disaster at the grocery store, at work and in our community,” Biden said in a statement after the Senate passed the bill. “I know that many in Congress share the reluctance to overturn the union ratification process. But in this case, the consequences of lockdown have been too great for working families across the country.”