Congressional leaders pave the way for a bipartisan bill to prevent a railroad strike

Congressional leaders pave the way for a bipartisan bill to prevent a railroad strike

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy attends a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and other congressional leaders to discuss legislative priorities through the end of 2022 at the White House on November 29, 2022 in Washington, U.S.

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden held a rare meeting of leaders of the four Houses and Senate at the White House on Tuesday, where Republicans and Democrats agreed to pass a bill to prevent a nationwide strike by railroad workers before the U.S. economy begins to suffer. soon this weekend.

The meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was a last-minute addition for Biden. public schedule. It also marked the first time the so-called Big Four met with Biden Republicans narrowly won control of the House earlier this month and Democrats held the Senate despite strong political winds.

Tuesday’s meeting was not partisan or contentious, even as the power dynamics in Washington shift, according to those in attendance.

“It was a very positive meeting and it was open,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol after the meeting. “But in terms of timing, right now we need to avoid a strike.”

McConnell also posted a similar note: “We had a really good meeting and talked about the challenges we all face here together.”

A the rail strike may officially begin Unless an agreement is reached between the unions and the railway companies on December 9. But its consequences would be felt even before that. Freight rail companies must give customers a week’s notice of a potential strike, giving them time to develop contingency plans.

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Congress can use its authority through the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to enact legislation ending a strike or lockout and to set the terms of agreements between unions and carriers. In that case, Congress appears poised to pass a preliminary labor agreement approved by some, but not all, of the sector’s major unions in September.

Pelosi said she plans to bring the bill to the House floor Wednesday morning.

“It’s not all I wanted to see. “I think we should have paid sick leave,” he said.

“I don’t like to oppose the possibility of unions going on strike. But weighing stocks, we should avoid a strike,” Pelosi added.

Both Pelosi and McCarthy said Tuesday they believe the rail strike bill has the votes it needs to pass the House.

But emergency rail strike legislation could face new hurdles in the Senate, where only one dissenting senator is needed to pass the bill.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has announced that he will oppose the bill.

“Just because Congress has the authority to make tough decisions doesn’t mean we should,” Rubio said in a statement Tuesday.

On the other side of the political spectrum, an unlikely ally for Rubio could be independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who criticized the deal when it was first reached in September. On Tuesday, he declined to say whether he would support the bill.

“This country has zero paid sick leave for railroad workers, people who work in dangerous jobs in bad weather. It’s terrible,” Sanders told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday.

“I think Congress should do everything it can to protect these workers to make sure the railroads treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve,” he added.

Rubio or Sanders or any other senator could decide to hold up the bill for a few days under Senate rules.

McConnell declined to speculate Tuesday on how many Republicans would support the bill.

“You have to ask our members,” he told reporters. “I think some may be inclined to vote against it, and others may feel the economic cost of doing so is too great.”

The House is expected to take up a version of the bill Wednesday morning. After that, the timeline will be harder to predict, given the flexibility given to senators under the chamber’s debate and filibuster rules.

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