(CNN) — The United States Senate on Thursday approved legislation to avoid the suspension of railway operations, following dire warnings from President Joe Biden about the economic threat posed by the strike.
The House of Representatives approved the tentative rail deal on Wednesday. The measure will now be sent to the President’s desk for signing into law.
The vote came after mounting pressure on MPs to act swiftly. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that members of the House “can’t leave until we’re done.”
Without Congressional action, a railroad strike would have begun on December 9, causing shortages, raising prices, and shutting down factories. It could disrupt commuter rail services for 7 million riders a day and transport 6,300 wagons of food and farm products, among other items, according to a compilation of business groups.
A potential complication in attempting to pass the bill was a push by progressives to add a provision relating to paid sick leave.
This Thursday, the Senate did not approve the paid sick leave measure that passed the House of Representatives and was supported by progressives.
By a vote of 290 to 137, the House approved a temporary railroad deal that would stop the strike. The vote was largely bipartisan, with 79 Republicans joining Democrats in voting for the bill. Eight Democrats voted against the deal.
In a separate vote, the House of Representatives voted 221 to 207 to add paid sick leave, which progressives supported to the railroad deal.
A freight train strike could cost the US economy as much as $1 billion in its first week alone, according to a new analysis from Andersen Economic Group.
As a result, Biden lobbied Congress to “immediately” pass legislation to prevent the suspension of rail operations.
Calling himself a “proud pro-labor president,” Biden said in his Monday statement: “I am reluctant to quash the ratification processes and the views of those who voted against the deal. But in this case, where the economic impact of suspension The operation will harm millions of workers and families, I believe Congress should use its powers to adopt this agreement.
Biden warned, “The suspension of rail operations will devastate the economy.”