The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday (November 30) to avert a looming nationwide strike by freight rail workers.
In a 290-137 vote, the House passed a measure to adopt a September deal brokered by the White House between the rail companies and several employee unions.
In a second vote, lawmakers approved a provision that would guarantee workers seven days of paid sick leave per year.
The two bills are now headed to the Senate, which must act before December 9 to prevent workers from walking off the job in the middle of the Holiday season.
The negotiations between the nation's freight carriers and 12 workers' unions have had mixed results. While several of the unions have backed the recent deal, four of the unions, including the largest rail union in the country, rejected the proposed contract.
The unions that voted in favor of the new contract have said they will not cross the picket lines if other unions choose to strike. A nationwide rail strike during the Holiday season could have severe economic consequences, costing the country about $2 billion a day in lost economic output.
"It is with great reluctance that we must now move to bypass the standard ratification process for the Tentative Agreement. However, we must act to prevent a catastrophic strike that would touch the lives of nearly every family: erasing hundreds of thousands of jobs, including union jobs; keeping food and medicine off the shelves; and stopping small businesses from getting their goods to market," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.