What to Know in Washington: Biden, Congress to Force Rail Deal

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President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are moving to prevent a looming shutdown of the nation’s freight railroads with the House preparing to take up a bill this week to impose a settlement over the objections of some unions.

Biden said in a statement Monday that lawmakers should “immediately” codify the agreement he helped broker in September between unions and railroads “without any modifications or delay,” after some labor groups voted to reject it.

“We cannot let our strongly held conviction for better outcomes for workers deny workers the benefits of the bargain they reached, and hurl this nation into a devastating rail freight shutdown,” the president said.

Biden’s intervention underscores the administration’s growing concern about the possibility of a work stoppage on freight rail lines. A strike could wreak havoc on the US economy by crippling supply chains, disrupting passenger rail travel and preventing key materials from reaching water treatment plants.

Unions and railroads have until Dec. 9 to avoid a strike, and a negotiated agreement now appears unlikely.

Congress can intervene to stop a strike under federal law. Pelosi said the House would consider legislation this week to adopt the tentative September agreement.

“This week, the House will take up a bill adopting the tentative agreement — with no poison pills or changes to the negotiated terms – and send it to the Senate,” Pelosi said in a statement. “It is my hope that this necessary, strike-averting legislation will earn a strongly bipartisan vote, giving America’s families confidence in our commitment to protecting their financial futures.” Read more.

Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg
U.S. President Joe Biden pictured at the White House in Washington.

Happening on the Hill


  • The House meets at 2 p.m. and plans to weigh over a dozen suspension bills
  • The Senate meets at 12 p.m. to finish work on same-sex marriage legislation

Same-Sex Marriage Legislation Clears Another Senate Hurdle

A Senate bill protecting same-sex marriage cleared another procedural hurdle on Monday night, with passage of the legislation expected Tuesday. The 61-35 vote allows the Senate to move ahead with an amendment to the measure that ensures it doesn’t infringe on religious rights and protections.

Big Tech’s Growing Clean Energy Thirst Shaping Power Grid Policy

Energy-guzzling tech titans such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Meta are pressing energy regulators and lawmakers for favorable power grid policies that speed procurement of clean power.

Elections, Politics & Probes

House ‘Competitive for the Decade’ Under New Maps—Podcast

Democrats lost control of the House Nov. 8 but exceeded expectations under new congressional maps that ensure the House will be in play for the rest of the decade, according to the party’s top redistricting strategist.

Pence Tells Trump to Apologize for Dining with White Nationalist

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Donald Trump should apologize for dining with rapper Ye and a well-known white nationalist, saying his former boss showed “profoundly poor judgment.”

  • Meanwhile, Trump can’t claim presidential immunity to avoid a lawsuit that accuses him of civil rights violations in his efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 election, a federal judge ruled Monday. Read more

Ex-Bridgewater CEO Weighs Repeating Senate Run After Oz Loss

When politicians and civic leaders meet at the annual Pennsylvania Society gathering, Democrats there will be celebrating a victory in the state’s US Senate race. Former Bridgewater CEO David McCormick—who lost to Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary—will be in attendance, too.

Supreme Court Official Says No Evidence of Ethical Lapse by Alito

A Supreme Court official said he sees no indication Justice Samuel Alito violated ethics rules after a New York Times story said a 2014 dinner party at the justice’s home allegedly produced a leak about a major case over contraceptives.

NBC Must Face Suit by Devin Nunes Alleging Maddow Smeared Him

Former congressman and Trump ally Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) cleared an early hurdle in a lawsuit accusing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow of smearing him on her show.

McEachin Has Died After Cancer Battle

Virginia 4th district Democratic congressman Donald McEachin has died, according to a statement from his office on Twitter.

Around the Administration


  • At 12:25 p.m., Biden will travel to Freeland, Mich., to tour a semiconductor facility
  • At 3:30 p.m., he is set to deliver remarks on his push for domestic manufacturing

Biden Proposes Mandates to Cut Methane Leaks on Federal Land

The Biden administration moved Monday to stifle methane releases from oil and gas wells on public land after a federal court tossed out earlier requirements.

US Offers Muted Response on China Protests After Biden-Xi Talks

The Biden administration is reacting cautiously to protests erupting in China over its government’s “Covid Zero” lockdowns, just two weeks after Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to ease strained relations between their countries.

Biden’s Internet Chief Looks to Grow Influence on Online Privacy

Biden’s top adviser on internet policy said he will play a larger role in shaping how companies protect users’ data as part of a broader push by the US to influence the tech industry.

Biden Expects to Hear Macron’s Concerns About US EV Credits

A dispute between the US and European Union over electric vehicle tax credits will come up when Biden hosts French President Emmanuel Macron this week for a state visit.

US, Mexico Make Progress in Corn Talks as AMLO, Vilsack Meet

US and Mexico made “some progress” in corn trade talks, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s reaffirmation of yellow corn imports importance for the country’s food security, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

  • Mexico’s plans to ban genetically modified corn have drawn backlash in the US, as the policy could cut the country’s American corn imports by over half. Republican Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both active on agriculture issues, this month called on the US Trade Representative to intervene on the proposed ban, Maeve Sheehey reports.

Fauci Says Covid Shows Endless Threat of Infectious Disease

The worldwide Covid-19 crisis shows that infectious diseases present a “perpetual challenge,” and officials have to be better prepared for them, outgoing presidential adviser Anthony Fauci said in an opinion piece.

With assistance from Maeve Sheehey

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Katrice Eborn at keborn@bgov.com

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