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'Should Never Have Come to This': Congress Passes Bill to Avert Rail Strike

AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar, File

The United States Senate passed a bill on Thursday to avert a nationwide railroad strike that was set to cost the American economy $2 billion per day and bring a major piece of America's transportation system to a halt after the House passed its version of the legislation on Wednesday. The final bills that were passed impose the tentative agreement that was reached by labor leaders and rail companies with the "help" of the Biden administration back in September — one that fell apart after a majority of the railroad unions' members voted to reject the deal because it did not address their demands about sick days and paid time off. 

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In the House, the vote came down 221-207 on Wednesday with all but three Republicans voting against the deal while the Senate vote on Thursday finished 80-15 with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) voting "present."

Republicans in the Senate expressed their relief that a disastrous nationwide strike had been averted while also pointing out that the need for congressional action was proof of another Biden failure. 

"By now everyone should realize nothing good happens when Congress gets involved in issues best left to the private sector," Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said after the Senate passed its bill. "But our involvement in this debate was inevitable once the Biden Administration, freight rail companies, and labor leaders negotiated a deal rail workers themselves did not support," he added. “One of the most confusing aspects of this debate is how the union members—some of the hardest-working men and women in the country—were left behind by their union bosses," Rubio reminded. 

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst said "President Biden could and should have done more to ensure a fair deal – for workers and all Americans," but instead "this is another example of President Biden failing," she said. "He passed the buck to Congress, and sold out our rail workers," Ernst added. "This deal isn't perfect - far from it," the Iowa Republican continued. "I want the record to stand, I strongly believe it should never have come to this."

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Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) — who supported a cooling-off period as an alternative — reminded Americans how Congress got to the point of having to decide whether to impose a contract or let America's rail system grind to a halt, laying the blame on another "brazen" Biden lie. Saying the U.S. economy was brought to "the edge of what would be a fiscal catastrophe all because of the Biden administration's ineptitude. After doing next to nothing to avoid a rail strike, President Biden assured the American people that this matter was settled," Cruz added. "That was a brazen lie."

The biggest losers in all this are now the union members who were sold out both by Democrats — including "most pro-labor President" Joe Biden — and union leaders who agreed to a tentative deal that their members rejected. President Biden, for his part, despite taking a braggadocios victory lap on the tentative agreement as a "win for America" will never admit he lied about averting the strike in September — he only delayed it until after the midterms. And then he still couldn't save it, instead relying on Congress to impose the deal against the wishes of the unions. 

Still Biden said on Thursday afternoon that "working together, we have spared this country a Christmas catastrophe in our grocery stores, in our workplaces, and in our communities," even though he was not a part of the "together" — If the situation had been solely left up to him, the strike would have hit next week with devastating consequences.

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