The House voted Wednesday to advance a deal aimed at averting a national rail strike—and also give rail workers needed paid sick leave.
Members voted 290–137 in support of a tentative labor agreement brokered by President Joe Biden. Subsequently, the House voted 221–207 to add seven paid sick leave days to said agreement. Rail workers currently have no paid sick days.
The additional paid sick leave measure comes after progressive House members, including Representatives Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush, pushed for its addition.
Unless an agreement is met by December 9, tens of thousands of rail workers will go on strike, disrupting a large portion of the country’s economy.
The urgency of the matter—both the fate of the economy and, crucially, workers’ welfare—prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to promptly bring the two measures to the House floor for a vote.
“After hearing from our Members, we are in agreement that a nationwide rail strike must be prevented—and that more must be done to secure the paid sick leave that hard-working railroaders deserve,” Pelosi wrote in a memo to colleagues on Tuesday.
The measure helps make clear where members of Congress actually stand on advocating for workers. The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote on Thursday, where the fate of paid leave remains unclear. Senators Cruz, Rubio, and Hawley have expressed noncommittal support for rail workers, rooted mainly in opposition to Biden’s initial deal. Senator Bernie Sanders has led the charge on the Senate side to add paid sick leave days to the rail agreement.
With the passage of both measures in the House, the Senate now has to take up both the tentative agreement and paid sick leave provision. As a result, senators’ true stance on the welfare of workers will become clear soon.