Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Sunday defended Democrats’ vote to impose a union contract on rail workers to avert a possible strike, citing the potential detrimental impact of a rail shutdown on the U.S. economy.
President Joe Biden had called on Congress to pass a contract between unions and rail networks ahead of a Dec. 9 strike deadline. All Senate Democrats voted for the contract to include seven sick days, except for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The measure got support from six Republicans.
“If there had been a strike, that, literally, hundreds of thousands, maybe more, workers would have been out of work for a lengthy period of time,” Brown told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have to look at the whole economy, but I will never lose my focus on those workers who didn’t get as good a deal as we’d like to have had.”
Brown added he will continue working with the White House and Republicans to address the issue.
Brown’s 2024 reelection chances appear to have been weakened by the failure of Democrat Tim Ryan to defeat Republican J.D. Vance for Ohio’s other Senate seat.
The midterm election was another display of the political realignment that has been taking place in the state over the past decade. Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, won the gubernatorial race with over 60% of the vote. The state voted for Trump in the past two presidential elections.
But Brown, a progressive populist who has been in office since 2006, maintained Ohio is still a swing state.
“Of course it is. I’m not worried,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I know it’s a challenge always, but I’m going about doing my job.”
Brown, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, also pushed back against criticism that Congress failed to protect Americans investing in crypto following the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX last month, which left over a million creditors emptyhanded.
“To say Congress has done nothing is not quite accurate. We have done a series of hearings exposing the problems with crypto, the problems for consumers, the problems for our economy here, and the problems internationally and for our national security. We will continue that,” Brown said.
He added that he “would love doing something legislatively.”
“I don’t know that Congress is capable of that because of crypto’s hold on one political party in the Senate and the House,” he said.