President Joe Biden signed legislation Friday to avoid a potentially catastrophic rail strike after Congress approved the measure this week.
Biden had pleaded with congressional lawmakers to act quickly, warning of significant damage to supply chains that could threaten the U.S. economy just weeks before Christmas.
I want to thank Congress - the Democrats and Republicans for acting so quickly. It was a tough vote for members of both parties, but it was a tough vote for me. Biden said before he signed the bill into law, it was the right thing to do at the moment, to save jobs, protect millions of working families from harm and disruption and to keep the supply chain stable around the holidays.
The bill was passed on Thursday by the Senate, which required 60 votes, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. voting. The Senate acted quickly one day after it was approved in the House with bipartisan support. Biden had pushed lawmakers to pass the measure after railway workers vowed to strike on December 9 if an agreement couldn't be reached.
Without action this week, disruptions to our auto supply chains, our ability to move food to tables and our ability to remove hazardous waste from gasoline refineries will begin, he said.
The Senate voted to reduce an amendment 52 to 43, championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. that would have added seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers.
After the sick leave amendment failed, Sanders said that the struggle is not over. It is disgusting that railroad workers do not have a single day of paid sick leave at a time of record-breaking profits for the rail industry. Some progressives and even a number of conservatives opposed the legislative fix, which was brokered by the Biden administration in September, with some citing union opposition. Four of 12 railway unions rejected the deal, and Biden called for Congress to intervene after talks between workers and their employers appeared to stall.
After the Senate passed the measure, Biden said in a statement that we have spared this country a Christmas catastrophe in our grocery stores, our workplaces, and our communities. Many in Congress shared my reluctance to override the union ratification procedures. The consequences of a shutdown were just too great for working families all over the country.