Charles Schumer
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Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) walks into a closed-door policy luncheon with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on December 01, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted against a measure on Thursday that would have provided rail workers with seven paid days of sick leave as Congress intervenes in an effort to prevent a potential nationwide rail strike.
The Senate voted against a measure on Thursday that would have provided rail workers with seven paid days of sick leave as Congress, members of which notably do not have paid sick day limits, intervenes in an effort to prevent a potential nationwide rail strike.

Though a slight majority of senators, 52, did vote in favor of the measure, it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold it would have needed in order to pass. Forty-three senators voted against it.

The House did manage to pass the sick leave measure on Wednesday in a 221-207 vote. All Democrats voted in the affirmative and were joined by three Republicans: Representatives Don Bacon of Nebraska, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and John Katko of New York.

Though the measure ultimately failed in the Senate, it did receive some bipartisan support. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were among the Republicans who voted in its favor.

The measure on paid sick leave was separate from legislation, which the Senate did pass later Thursday in a 80-15 vote (one additional senator responded "present" rather than voting for or against), that would impose an agreement aimed at preventing a rail strike that President Joe Bidenhad warned could cause a "crippling" national shutdown. The legislation that was passed entailed a 24 percent raise over a five-year period and a $5,000 bonus for workers.

This came a day after the House passed the legislation on Wednesday in a 290-137 vote. A vast majority of Democrats, 211, voted in favor of this resolution and were joined by 79 Republicans. Meanwhile, eight Democrats broke with their party and joined the 129 Republicans who voted against it.

The quick action came after President Joe Biden called on Congress Monday to intervene and immediately pass the legislation in order to avert a strike during the holiday season. The White House helped negotiate a tentative agreement in September that entailed higher wages and a $5,000 bonus for workers, temporarily preventing such a strike in what was hailed as a major win for the Biden administration.

But four of the 12 involved unions ultimately rejected the deal and a strike was put back on the table if an agreement could not be reached by December 9.

Biden issued a statement on Monday urging Congress to intervene and adopt the September agreement without any modifications in order to avoid a strike. This would override the requirement for all 12 unions to ratify the new contracts before the fast-approaching deadline.

Biden said in the statement that he was "reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement," but stressed that he believes it was necessary for Congress to use its authority to adopt the deal to avoid an economic shutdown he said could potentially hurt millions of other people and families.

After the House passed the agreement on Wednesday, Biden issued another statement expressing his gratitude to those who had made it possible.

"This overwhelming bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives makes clear that Democrats and Republicans agree that a rail shutdown would be devastating to our economy and families across the country. The Senate must now act urgently," he wrote.