Home » As rail strike looms, Biden says he’s “not directly involved,” argues White House press secretary
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As rail strike looms, Biden says he’s “not directly involved,” argues White House press secretary

President Biden answered a handful of questions on Thanksgiving Day on Nantucket, Massachusetts.

President Biden on Thursday contradicted White House officials, saying he had not been in direct contact with either side of the looming national rail strike.

Biden told reporters in Nantucket, Mass., that negotiations between unions representing railroad workers and their employers are continuing. The president added that since the talks were ongoing, he himself had communicated directly with some parties.

“My team has been in contact with all the parties, in the rooms with the parties,” Biden said. “I’m not directly engaged yet because they’re still talking.”

Biden’s words contradict those of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who said earlier this week that Biden was “directly involved” in the negotiations.

SECOND IRON UNION DEPENDS DEAL WITHDRAWAL, Escalating Strike Threat Ahead of Holidays

President Biden, standing next to and leaving Nantucket Fire Chief Michael Cranson, speaks with firefighters on Thanksgiving Day at the Nantucket Fire Department in Nantucket, Mass., Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh/AP Newsroom)

“I’m not directly engaged yet because they’re still talking,” Biden said. (Saul Young/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, Pool/AP Newsroom)

“The president is indeed directly involved,” Jean-Pierre said. “I don’t want to get into the details right now, but he’s involved. He remains focused on protecting America’s families.”

ACKNOWLEDGING RAIL STRIKE, WHITE HOUSE DOESN’T SAY HOW BIDEN IS DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN NEGOTIATIONS

Earlier this week, the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers International Association (SMART-TD) rejected the initial agreement with the country’s main freight railways. The union’s decision has raised the prospect of a nationwide rail strike that could severely impact the economy ahead of the holiday season.

“The president is indeed directly involved,” Jean-Pierre said earlier this week. (Oliver Contreras/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Administration officials have been trying to find a compromise to avert a strike. At least one union official involved in the negotiations has said Biden has largely done so away from negotiations.

However, Jean-Pierre rejected such talk at the White House press conference on Tuesday.

The prospect of a nationwide rail strike is high, which could seriously affect the economy ahead of the holiday season. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“This is the third time I’ve said he’s been directly involved,” Jean-Pierre said. “You’re talking about one union president. There are 12. You’re talking about one.”

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“He has been directly involved,” he said when pressed by reporters. “I’m not going to go into more detail about it, but you’re talking about one in 12 presidents.”