CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The US Senate approved a resolution aimed at preventing a nationwide rail strike that caused concerns about potential damage to our regional economy.

Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Senate reached a deal on a measure to prevent a walk-out with a 80 to 15 vote. There were concerns a strike could economically damage the big coal states.

The House approved the measure by a wide margin on Wednesday, and the bill now goes to President Biden.

Coal distribution accounts for 11% of all rail traffic in the United States, to the tune of $8 billion a year. The six states in our Appalachian region are in the top 20 coal-producing states in the nation.

“Well a rail strike would be devastating to West Virginia. Certainly tons and tons of coal are being carried out of our state, most on export, mostly to Europe. So, for the disruptions there, would have huge impacts,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia before the vote.

While the U.S. Senate passed the anti-strike bill this afternoon, it did not approve seven days of sick leave for rail workers as the House did Wednesday.

From our region. Senators Shelley Moore Capito, Joe Manchin, Mitch McConnell and Rob Portman voted “yes” on averting the rail strike which could have begun on Dec. 9.