(Washington, DC) — The Senate is approving legislation to avert a rail strike. The chamber voted 80-15 in favor of the bill that was passed Wednesday by the House. The measure now goes to President Biden for his signature. Biden and bipartisan congressional leaders stressed forcing the agreement through was necessary to avoid a major blow to the economy. Biden told reporters Thursday a strike would have triggered a recession.
The Senate, however, rejected an amendment to add seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers to the agreement. The deal was brokered by the White House in September but was rejected by some of the unions. Biden on Thursday vowed to continue fighting for paid leave after the agreement is approved.
The Senate voted 80-15 today to pass a bill that would head off a potential rail strike that could have disrupted the movement of grain and input shipments. The vote comes a day after the House approved similar legislation.
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauded the development.
“We are extremely relieved that Congress took action to head off a strike that would have had serious consequences for America’s farmers, who are grappling with an increase in input costs and barge rates due to severe drought conditions on the Mississippi River,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “Today’s actions are an excellent example of Congress working together to get things done on behalf of the American people.”
A deal to avert a strike appeared imminent in recent months, but a disagreement over paid sick days put the country back on the pathway to a strike, which could have begun as early as Dec. 9. Left with no other options, Pres. Biden urged Congress to act.
The bill will now head to the president for signature.
ACE Welcomes Congressional Action to Avoid Rail Strike
Sioux Falls, SD – Today, the U.S. Senate approved bipartisan legislation to avoid a national rail strike after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill Nov. 30. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature just ahead of the Dec. 9 deadline to reach an agreement before the labor union workers promised to strike.
“About 70-75 percent of all ethanol that is produced in the U.S. moves by railroad, and a strike would have a crippling effect on not only the producers of the fuel but also everyone downstream, from marketers to retailers and ultimately motorists who depend upon low cost and low carbon ethanol to help keep them mobile,” said Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO. “We’re appreciative that Congress quickly took up bipartisan legislation to ratify the tentative agreement between the railroads and labor unions and look forward to President Biden swiftly signing this into law to avoid the negative impacts of a strike.”
Growth Energy Statement on Senate Passage of Bill to Avert Rail Strike
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Growth Energy’s CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement after the Senate approved a bill to avert a nationwide rail strike. With yesterday’s approval by the House of the same legislation, the bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature, meaning the threat of a strike has been eliminated for the foreseeable future:
“American ethanol producers can rest easy tonight knowing that the rail strike that’s threatened their ability to plan for the last several weeks has been successfully averted. While we’ve always supported a voluntary solution, we’re glad to see Congress and the Administration recognize the seriousness of the matter and the danger a strike posed to the American economy. Every industry would’ve been harmed but the ethanol industry is especially reliant on rail for its operations—nearly 70% of U.S. ethanol production is moved by rail, filling more than 400,000 carloads annually—so the economic harm would’ve been especially severe for our industry.
“No one wants to see American motorists cut off from a vital supply of lower-cost, lower-carbon fuels due to an avoidable rail strike. Today, thanks to the swift action by both chambers of Congress and the Biden Administration, no one will have to.”
Growth Energy has signed on to numerous coalitions and comment letters urging all parties involved in the negotiations to come to a voluntary agreement. In the absence of such an agreement, Growth Energy and its membership have vocally supported a legislative fix that prevents a destructive rail strike. The ethanol industry ships more than 400,000 ethanol carloads per year (USDA data: Annual U.S Rail Carloads of Ethanol | Open Ag Transport Data (usda.gov)), an estimated 200,000 carloads of distillers dried grains (DDGS), and more than 10,000 cars of corn oil. The ethanol fleet is now more than 36,000 cars (RSI data: Progress – Tank Car Resource Center).