WH Press Secretary: ‘A Rail Shutdown Would Have a Grinding Effect on Our Economy and Touch the Lives of Nearly Every Family’

Melanie Arter | December 1, 2022 | 2:53pm EST
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 A long freight train and aggregate cars carry rock and gravel travel through the town of Mojave on November 15, 2022, near Mojave, California. Mojave is an unincorporated community in Kern County, California, United States, and located 50 miles east of Bakersfield, and 100 miles north of Los Angeles. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
A long freight train and aggregate cars carry rock and gravel travel through the town of Mojave on November 15, 2022, near Mojave, California. Mojave is an unincorporated community in Kern County, California, United States, and located 50 miles east of Bakersfield, and 100 miles north of Los Angeles. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – If Congress doesn’t agree on legislation to avert a railway strike and get it to the president’s desk by this weekend, it will cause “serious disruptions” in railway service, disrupting supply chains, preventing transportation of chemicals needed to treat drinking water and creating supply constraints of diesel and gasoline, the White House said Wednesday.

“I want to go back to the rail strike — or potential thereof, and I want to drill down on what you continue to say: hurt, the hurt. You know, this White House, this administration — on the Hill, you guys are rallying the economy as some are concerned about what the first quarter — the end of the first quarter could look like in 2023. Could you qualify and quantify what that hurt looks like?  Because you keep talking about the union people and their families, but it’s broader than that,” TheGrio’s White House Correspondent April Ryan asked.

“Let me break it down exactly what this could look like, and it would have — a rail shutdown would have a grinding effect on our economy to halt and touch the lives of nearly every family across the country. Even in the days before a rail stoppage, serious disruptions will begin to occur,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“A couple of examples here: By Friday, Class 1 railroads will likely begin to notify their customers of the wind-down process. Just the announcement would disrupt supply chains as companies begin to reschedule shipments from rail to truck,” she said.

“As soon as this weekend, Class 1 railway — railroads may begin to refuse to transport hazardous materials, like chemicals necessary to treat drinking water and wastewater. Oil and gas refineries, unable to ship out hazardous byproducts, will stop producing diesel and gasoline, creating supply constraints,” Jean-Pierre said.

“The auto sector could also be disrupted as soon as this weekend as well. Last time around, the railroads began refusing to transport automobiles about a week ahead of the shut — shutdown deadline,” the press secretary said.

“So, again, Congress must get a bill to the president’s desk this weekend to protect families and — from these potential devastating impacts. So, this is what we’re talking about. These are real-life, you know, changes and impacts that we can see here,” she added.

RYAN: So, with that said — and thank you for all that. I didn’t expect you to have it. Thank you, but at the end of the day, you are fighting inflation. This White House is fighting inflation, and it sounds like the numbers will go up again. What is in place? What are you guys working on in case there is a strike? Understanding those numbers and all the things that you qualify and quantify, what is in place to cushion the American taxpayer’s pocketbook or the American consumer’s pocketbook with this knowledge that you have?

JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me just — on inflation for a second — and it’s — I do want to point out that we’ve seen a recent months — in recent months, which is inflation slowing in the third quarter compared to first and second quarters. So, that’s good news, and in the last CPI, we’ve seen prices fall for used cars, apparel, inflation moderation for housing, food, and services — all welcome news as we head into the holidays.  

So, we have seen that in the data points in the past several months.  So, that’s important to note, and as I’ve said many times, when it comes to the president’s economic — economic plan, inflation is lowering — lowering costs and dealing with inflation, fighting inflation is the president’s number-one priority.

At the beginning of the briefing, I laid out gas prices — how much it’s fallen. The average — the gas price that you see — that you’ll see is about $2.99. It’s gone down by more than $1.50 per gallon, and that’s because of the work that this president has done with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, making historic — taking historic action.

So, that matters as well. We are certainly working towards that, but, look, the president is confident that Congress is going to act on this, that we are going to, you know, work to avert a rail — a railway shutdown. That’s why you saw the House today — he complimented the House, the Speaker, and the leadership to getting the — moving the bill forward, and it included Democrats and Republicans. Right? 

So, we saw a — a interest of getting this done across the — across the spectrum. So, we’re going to continue to work towards that. It’s going to go to the Senate next, and the per- — the president and his team is going to continue to encourage members to get it done.

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