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Tipsheet

White House Can't Explain Why Biden Voted Against Ending a Rail Strike in 1992

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In the first White House press briefing since President Biden contradicted his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre regarding his lack of involvement in the negotiations that seek to avert a nationwide railroad strike, Jean-Pierre still didn't have answers to questions from reporters. 

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With just one week until the deadline to prevent a strike, Jean-Pierre was asked whether President Biden would formally ask Congress to step in to implement a cooling-off period or otherwise act to avert the strike that would cost the U.S. economy an estimated $2 billion per day and cripple close to one-third of U.S. freight. Her response was an all-too-familiar non-answer: "I don't have anything right now, at this time, to announce or preview on any announcement that the president is going to make." 

Calling a shutdown "unacceptable," Jean-Pierre again repeated her claim from last week that President Biden has been "directly involved" in the negotiations and "had conversations with members of Congress on this particular issue." To that point, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Biden was expected to ask Congress to step in. 

Jean-Pierre noted that resolving a railroad labor dispute had fallen to Congress 18 times in the last 60 years, but she apparently didn't expect the White House press corps to bring up Biden's record on the matter during his 35+ years in the U.S. Senate that overlapped with that 60-year time frame. 

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As it turns out, and as was noted by a reporter in the briefing, Biden was one of only six U.S. senators to vote against the congressional action that resolved a railroad labor dispute in 1992. The final vote in the upper chamber in '92, the last time Congress was forced to act in order to end a labor dispute, was 87 in favor, six against — including then-Senator Joe Biden — while seven senators did not vote on the measure. 

As the question on the president's flip-flopping position on the matter was presented, "Biden was one of six senators, and only six, to say that Congress should not intervene, that it's a dynamic that favors the railroads against the interests of the workers, why would he seek congressional intervention now."

A solid question for which there's no good answer given Biden's apparent change of heart on the matter, but one that drew another non-answer from Jean-Pierre. 

"Look, again- I can't- I'm- I'm- when the president has made a decision on this, if he makes a decision on this, you'll hear directly from him," the White House press secretary said. "I don't have anything to share or preview at this time," she repeated, retreating to her non-answer response before saying she was not "going to legislate from here." Newsflash for the White House: the executive branch isn't the legislative branch. That's a lesson the Biden White House should have learned by now after the Supreme Court has struck down several of the Biden White House's attempts to implement policies under powers that are reserved for Congress. 

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As Townhall reported, Biden said on Thanksgiving that he had not yet been engaged in the talks on which he took a victory lap in September before the "win for America" he bragged about fell apart again. But earlier last week, Jean-Pierre repeatedly insisted that Biden was "directly engaged" in the talks that he and his administration have now failed for months to bring to a successful conclusion.

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