Striking a blow for the party’s economic populism credentials, six Republican senators joined dozens of Democrats in a key congressional vote Thursday. The proposal to add seven days of sick leave to the railroad contract negotiated by the White House failed 52-43.
It needed to reach a 60-vote threshold set for passing the measure.
Still, the votes of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mike Braun (R-WI) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) are a clear shot across the bow.
The looming rail shutdown was avoided Thursday by the Senate following the House in approving the White House-negotiated labor deal. Workers get a 24% pay increase over five years and an average of an $11,000 payout when unions ratify the contract.
There is also one extra paid day off.
BREAKING: The Senate voted down a deal, 52-43 that would have granted rail workers 7 paid sick days.
This was the crux of the rail strike standoff. Railroad workers in the U.S. do not receive a single paid sick day.
— Lauren Kaori Gurley (@LaurenKGurley) December 1, 2022
However, four rail unions balked at the failure to include sick days in the original agreement, leading to the possibility of a pre-Christmas nationwide strike.
This led to the separate proposal to grant rail employees seven days of paid sick leave. Though the measure failed, Cruz said it was a “reasonable request” by rail workers that needs to be “adequately addressed.”
Echoing the economic populism of his five colleagues who voted in favor of the proposal, Rubio declared that Congress having the power to impose a “heavy-handed solution” does not mean that’s the right course of action. Instead, he accused the Biden administration of failing to support workers.
This, incidentally, is the same Biden who called himself the most pro-union president in history.
The votes by six Republican lawmakers in favor of the Senate measure signaled the stance on economic populism. What will be more interesting is to see how far the GOP, which has quickly become the party of the common American, will go in support of labor initiatives.