After months of delays and intense negotiations, the U.S. Congress approved an agreement with railway unions to avoid a shutdown.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 290-137 to pass a bill to avert a looming rail worker strike. The House also approved a measure to increase the number of sick days for workers from one to seven, which passed 221 to 207.
All of Alabama's Republican representatives voted against both measures, whereas Democrat Terri Sewell, who represents Alabama's 7th Congressional District, voted in their favor.
"I voted against enforcing the railway agreement because it is not the job of Congress to bail out President Biden after he failed to negotiate with railroad unions," U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) said in a tweet. "The last thing our country needs is Congress getting involved in private businesses by picking winners and losers."
The bill went on to the Senate Thursday, which moved quickly to approve the agreement with a vote of 80-15. Both U.S. Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) voted in favor of the deal but voted against the added sick days, which ultimately did not pass.
"I continue to believe labor negotiations should be independent from government interference, but the dire economic consequences of a rail strike required, what I hope, is a rare intervention by Congress," Tuberville said in a statement. "After the Biden Administration tried and failed to [mediate] negotiations, our economy was left on the edge of a crisis. I voted to approve the agreement because the American people cannot afford a supply chain disruption that would exacerbate the inflation crisis created by Democrats' spending agenda. In the absence of leadership from the White House, Congress had to step in to protect the American people."
President Joe Biden attempted to make a deal with railway unions in September after warning a strike, which could have started December 9, would "devastate the economy." The recently approved agreement resembles the terms of Biden's initial negotiations, minus the sick days, which four of the 12 unions involved had been holding out for, according to Politico.
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