The looming impeachment battle in the Senate puts the vote to approve President Donald Trump’s signature trade deal on hold this week, if not this month, The Hill reported.
Before the new year, Senate Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had vowed to focus solely on the impeachment trial, putting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) on the back burner. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has ostensibly clouded the Senate agenda on impeachment by continuing to withhold the two articles of impeachment against Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“The minute those articles come over, that takes precedence under the rules and under the Constitution,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday.
Senators had hoped to “wedge” in the vote on the USMCA.
“I’m not sure we can get it all cleared by the end of the week, but I would like to have been able to wedge this in before the impeachment process starts,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told The Hill.
“It’s looking less likely only because there are so many committees that have to act on it.”
Chairman Chuck Grassley’s Senate Finance Committee approved the USMCA 25-3, but the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will not vote on the measure until next Wednesday, per The Hill.
The USMCA passed the House in a bipartisan vote 385-41, but some of the maneuvering to placate Democrats has left GOP senators less excited about Trump’s first potential legislative victory on trade.
“We’ve slapped on all of these provisions designed to restrict trade and investment – we’ll get no economic growth out of this,” Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told The Hill. “We, the Senate and the Senate Finance Committee, are allowing ourselves to be marginalized.”
Toomey and Sen. Bill Cassidy voted against the USMCA in the Senate Finance Committee.