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Lawmakers could intervene to stop railroad strike

A costly railroad strike is looming just in time to scare Christmas-season retailers unless the nation’s freight railroads and labor unions resolve their differences by Tuesday. Congress could intervene as early as Friday to avert a shutdown.

House lawmakers said Thursday they hope the parties will agree to extend the negotiation period for an additional 60 days. If not, House GOP leaders intend to bring up for a vote Friday a bill to block a strike, said Rep. Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania Republican, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure rail subcommittee.

The bill would impose the settlement recommendations of a five-member Presidential Emergency Board that would bind the parties for the next three years. It is not clear whether Democratic leaders in the Senate — generally more sympathetic to unions — would go along with that, or seek another option such as extending the talks.

A strike of any length could cause massive disruption to the economy. Retailers say a rail strike would cost businesses and consumers $2 billion a day and prove especially damaging during the industry’s most important shopping season of the year.


Romney visits Bush behind close doors

HOUSTON — Mitt Romney is set to chat behind closed doors with former President George H.W. Bush. But Mr. Romney’s campaign says no endorsement is imminent.

The Republican presidential hopeful was heading Thursday to Mr. Bush’s home in Houston, even though he was venturing onto the home turf of a rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho confirmed the meeting, saying they are “friends,” but added it doesn’t mean Mr. Bush will endorse Mr. Romney.

The elder Mr. Bush endorsed Mr. Perry during the tight 1998 race for Texas lieutenant governor. Mr. Perry won.

Mr. Perry then became governor when George W. Bush left for the White House in 2000.

Both Mr. Perry and the younger Mr. Bush have denied reports of a rift between their camps dating back to their days working together in Texas.


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