Congress leaders signal support for preventing US rail strike

AFP , Tuesday 29 Nov 2022

Congressional leaders expressed support Tuesday for quickly ending a threatened rail workers' strike that could sow chaos in the US economy.

In an aerial view, freight rail cars sit in a rail yard near shipping containers on November 22, 202
In an aerial view, freight rail cars sit in a rail yard near shipping containers on November 22, 2022 in Wilmington, California. AFP


Speaking at the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the top leaders of both his Democratic party and the Republicans support turning to a rarely used legislative power to resolve a union dispute.

"All four of us agreed we've got to resolve this rail shutdown as quickly as possible," Schumer said, adding that the senior Republican senator, Mitch McConnell "agreed to try to get it done ASAP."

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, said the lower chamber would vote Wednesday on forcing unions to accept a deal averting a strike. It would then go to the Senate.

A strike by freight rail workers, who are integral to US supply chains, is expected to start December 9 unless Congress intervenes. Legislators would effectively be forcing hold-outs to accept a September preliminary deal agreed to by a majority of unions on increased wages.

Biden called the White House meeting to discuss the "lame duck" session of Congress ahead of January when Republicans will take over control of the House of Representatives, after their narrow win in November's midterm elections. Democrats will retain a thin majority in the Senate.

The White House said Biden and the congressional leaders discussed maintaining funding for the US government and unprecedented military aid for Ukraine in its fight against Russian invasion.

Biden, who faces the next two years of his first term with Republicans blocking his legislation in the House, offered an olive branch, according to the White House.

He told his "Republican colleagues that whatever disagreements they may have, he is always interested in finding new common ground, and that he has an open door to hear their perspectives," the statement said.

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