Congress must act before midnight Friday to head off a looming national rail strike that, barring a last-minute settlement, will shut down most commuter and much of the nation’s freight rail service.
Fifty-seven thousand train engineers and conductors threaten to walk off the job over a lack of sick days and attendance reforms not addressed in a presidential oversight board’s recommendation.
Doing so would shut down much of the nation’s rail transportation, including 30 percent of freight rail key for shipping grain, corn ethanol and other farm goods, unless Congress acts.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley; “Congress could pass a resolution that would just go along with the latest negotiated settlement, and that would end it, or we could legislate some changes in the agreement to this point.”
Republican Grassley expects lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support heading off a strike, which he says would be “very damaging” to the economy, and for Democrats, harmful to their mid-term election prospects. Grassley; “I think that the political fallout from a strike, because we’re not going to approve something that makes it worse for the economy and the railroads. I just think it’d be catastrophic if they allowed the strike to happen.”
But Congress must act by a midnight Friday strike deadline on a pending Senate GOP resolution and do so, Grassley says, by “unanimous consent,” avoiding a prolonged debate and amendments.