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President Joe Biden plans to call on Congress to act to stop a looming shutdown of the nation’s freight railroads, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The White House is holding off on a public announcement of the president’s intentions until his aides are certain they have the votes to pass legislation, according to the person, who has been briefed on the plan but requested anonymity to discuss it.
A rail strike could wreak havoc on the U.S. economy by crippling supply chains, disrupting passenger rail travel and preventing key materials from reaching water treatment plants.
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Unions and railroads have until Dec. 9 to avoid a strike after some labor groups voted down a White House-brokered agreement. A negotiated agreement now appears unlikely. Congress can intervene to stop a strike under federal law.
The White House declined to comment on the president’s plans. But it signaled it won’t let a shutdown of freight rail lines cripple the economy, with a spokeswoman noting that Congress has repeatedly intervened in the past to prevent work stoppages.
“The president is directly involved in the process and has been engaged with his team and also has had conversations with members of Congress on this particular issue, in case resolving the issue falls to them as it has 18 times in the last 60 years,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Nov. 28.
The Washington Post earlier reported Biden’s intention to call on Congress to intervene in the dispute. Jean-Pierre declined to confirm that report.
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