House passes bill to avoid rail strike, Senate action needed

By Erin Voegele | November 30, 2022

The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 30 voted 290 to 137 to approve a bill that aims to adopt a tentative agreement between railroad workers and operators in an effort to avert an economically devastating rail strike. The agreement must be finalized before Dec. 9 to avoid the strike.

The agreement referenced in the legislation was approved by labor and management negotiators in September. Since then, eight of 12 rail unions have voted to approve the deal.

The House also voted 221 to 207 to approve a separate resolution that would increase the number of paid sick leave days in the contract from one annually to seven annually.

The Senate must now act on the legislation to avoid a rail shutdown. President Joe Biden is urging the Senate to move quickly on the vote.

“I am grateful to Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats and Republicans for taking urgent action to prevent a rail shutdown,” Biden said. “This overwhelming bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives makes clear that Democrats and Republicans agree that a rail shutdown would be devastating to our economy and families across the country. The Senate must now act urgently.  Without the certainty of a final vote to avoid a shutdown this week, railroads will begin to halt the movement of critical materials like chemicals to clean our drinking water as soon as this weekend.  Let me say that again: without action this week, disruptions to our auto supply chains, our ability to move food to tables, and our ability to remove hazardous waste from gasoline refineries will begin. The Senate must move quickly and send a bill to my desk for my signature immediately.”

Growth Energy is applauding House passage of the bill and calling on the Senate to quickly pass the legislation. “Nearly 70 percent of U.S. ethanol production is moved by rail – more than 400,000 carloads annually,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “No one wants to see American motorists cut off from a vital supply of lower-cost, lower-carbon fuels so we’re glad to see Congress take the threat of a rail strike seriously and urge the Senate to work quickly to adopt this legislation. The sooner the bill is passed, the sooner our industry can confidently get back to work for American consumers without having to worry about a deeply disruptive, and wholly avoidable rail strike."