Senate passes bill to stop rail strike, sending it to Biden
|The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to avoid a railroad strike that farm leaders said would impose significant harm on the agricultural sector and the broader economy.|
The measure has already passed the House of Representatives and will now move to President Biden for his signature.
In an analysis, the Soy Transportation Council said the Senate:
▪ Approved the tentative agreement between the railroads and the unions by a vote of 80 to 15.
▪ Failed to pass a substitute bill that would have extended the negotiation for 60 days by a vote of 26 in favor to 69 opposed.
▪ Failed to pass a bill adding seven paid sick days to the tentative agreement by a vote of 52 in favor, 43 opposed because the measure required 60 votes for passage.
On Wednesday, the House approved the tentative agreement by a vote of 290 to 137 and passed a separate measure to add seven paid sick days by a vote of 221 to 207.
“We are very pleased both the House and the Senate responded quickly to President Biden’s call for Congress to act to prevent a potential railroad strike,” Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Council said in an email.
“Throughout the negotiation process, we did not take a side between railroads and railroad workers. However, we clearly are on the side of the American farmer, who would have been harmed if a shutdown would have been allowed to occur.
“Our preference was for the contract negotiations to be conducted and concluded by the two parties alone, but when those negotiations had reached an impasse and a shutdown was increasingly becoming a possibility, many agricultural and other organizations urged the President and Congress to intervene.”
North American Millers Association President Jane DeMarchi said, “NAMA thanks the Biden administration and Congress for acting to prevent a rail shutdown. While we wish it had not come down to congressional action and that the two sides could have come to an agreement earlier, we are relieved that the milling supply chain — and ultimately, consumers — will not face devastating and costly disruptions.”
President Biden noted that on Tuesday he had met with congressional leaders and urged them to move quickly “to avert a rail shutdown and economic catastrophe for our nation,” and thanked members of both parties for voting for it.
“Congress’ decisive action ensures that we will avoid the impending, devastating economic consequences for workers, families, and communities across the country,” Biden said.
“Communities will maintain access to clean drinking water. Farmers and ranchers will continue to be able to bring food to market and feed their livestock. And hundreds of thousands of Americans in a number of industries will keep their jobs. I will sign the bill into law as soon as Congress sends it to my desk.”
–The Hagstrom Report