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Biden calls on Congress to ‘immediately’ pass legislation to avert rail shutdown

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images 28 Nov 22

Originally Published: 28 NOV 22 18:20 ET

Updated: 28 NOV 22 18:35 ET

By Donald Judd, CNN

    (CNN) -- President Joe Biden in a statement Monday called on Congress to pass legislation "immediately" averting a rail shutdown and officially adopting a September tentative agreement approved by labor and management leaders.

"I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators -- without any modifications or delay -- to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown," he said.

"This agreement was approved by labor and management negotiators in September," Biden continued. "On the day that it was announced, labor leaders, business leaders, and elected officials all hailed it as a fair resolution of the dispute between the hard-working men and women of the rail freight unions and the companies in that industry. ... Since that time, the majority of the unions in the industry have voted tso approve the deal."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said Monday the House will take up this week legislation to avert a possible rail strike.

"This week, the House will consider legislation adopting the Tentative Agreement reached in September after months of hard-fought negotiations," Pelosi said in a statement.

Congress can impose a contract on both parties or extend a negotiation "cooling-off period" to keep the railroads running and avert disruptions to interstate commerce under the Railway Labor Act of 1926. The main crux of the dispute between the railroads and their workers revolves around time off rules.

Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden has been "directly involved" in efforts to resolve the ongoing rail union dispute which could lead to a rail shutdown -- in contrast with comments from Biden himself, who told reporters in Nantucket over the weekend he has "not directly engaged" with railway and labor negotiators.

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