The Senate passed legislation to avoid a rail strike, one day after the House approved the measure. The bill was signed by President Joe Biden, who had previously told Congress to act swiftly, warning that a strike could cause major harm to supply chains.
The agreement, which required 60 votes, passed 80 to 15 with one senator voting present.
Rail moves almost 30% of all freight by ton-mile, a measure of weight and distance traveled. Some products, such as frac sand, aggregates, coal, grains, lumber, chemicals and autos are particularly reliant on rail. A prolonged strike could have raised prices for food, gasoline, new cars, electricity and other items.
“We commend members of Congress for averting a catastrophic rail strike,” said Suzanne P. Clark, president and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The legislation passed reflects the deal struck between the major freight railroads and the leadership of the 12 rail unions and ratified by a majority of rail workers. American workers, businesses and consumers will benefit from this outcome as it provides generous benefits for rail workers and certainty that rail service will not be interrupted. We must remember that our economy depends on the hard work of rail workers and the railroads, and averting a strike is a win for our country. We thank President Biden and Congress for helping secure America’s rail service.”