After months of delays and intense negotiations, the US Congress approved an agreement with railroad unions to avoid a shutdown.
On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of it by a vote of 290 to 137 hand over an invoice to avert an impending strike by railway workers. The House also approved a measure to increase the number of sick days for workers from one to seven, rising from 221 to 207.
All Alabama Republican representatives voted against both measures, while Democrat Terri Sewell, representing Alabama’s 7th congressional district, voted in favor of them.
“I voted against enforcing the railroad deal because it is not up to Congress to bail out President Biden after he failed to negotiate with the railroad unions,” said US Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) in a tweet. “The last thing our country needs is Congress interfering with private companies by picking winners and losers.”
The bill went to the Senate on Thursday, which quickly approved the agreement by an 80-15 vote. Both US Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) voted in favor of the deal but voted against the additional sick days, which ultimately failed.
“I continue to believe that labor negotiations should be independent of government interference, but the dire economic fallout from a railroad strike will require, I hope, rare intervention from Congress,” Tuberville said in a statement. “After the Biden administration tried and failed [mediate] negotiations, our economy was on the brink of a crisis. I voted to approve the deal because the American people cannot afford a supply chain disruption that would exacerbate the inflationary crisis created by the Democrats’ spending agenda. In the absence of leadership from the White House, Congress had to step in to protect the American people.”
President Joe Biden tried to reach an agreement with railroad unions in September after warning that a strike that could have started on December 9 would “devastate the economy”. The recently approved agreement is similar to the terms of Biden’s initial negotiations, minus the sick days that Politico said four of the 12 unions involved were waiting for.
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