McConnell: Senate to vote on new trade deal before impeachment trial

By Sabrina Rodriguez and Burgess Everett

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate is on track to pass the new North American trade pact this week, ahead of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate is expected to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Thursday with strong bipartisan support before swearing in for the trial takes place.

The trade deal would “be good news for the Senate and the country,” McConnell said.

Passage of USMCA offers a major legislative win for Trump going into his re-election campaign. Renegotiating the original NAFTA was one of his signature 2016 campaign promises.

A Senate vote on USMCA is one of the last votes that will take place before the impeachment trial begins. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said earlier on Tuesday that the chamber could also hold votes on Democrats’ War Powers resolution before turning to the trial.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., questions Boeing Company President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg as he appears before a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on 'Aviation Safety and the Future of Boeing's 737 MAX' on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The remaining four of the seven committees of jurisdiction are scheduled to vote on the deal Wednesday, removing one of the final hurdles before a floor vote.

The Senate Appropriations Committee and Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will take up the agreement Wednesday. The Commerce and Foreign Relations committees will also vote to advance the USMCA implementing bill on Wednesday.

The Senate Finance, Budget and Environment and Public Works committees already approved the deal.

Passage of the deal would come more than 400 days after Trump originally signed the pact with Mexico and Canada. The House overwhelming approved the deal in December in a 385-41 vote after negotiating a revised version of the pact with the Trump administration.

Talks between House Democrats and the Trump administration ran for almost six months in an effort to address prevailing Democratic concerns on the pact’s enforcement, environment, labor and pharmaceutical provisions.

While the deal is a big victory for Trump, the USMCA is not expected to significantly increase trade in the region. The independent U.S. International Trade Commission estimates are that it would raise U.S. GDP by almost $70 billion, or 0.35 percent, and create 176,000 jobs by its sixth year — meaning it will take years before companies and workers in the region feel the full effects of the deal.

Mexico already ratified the revised deal. Canada is expected to have a vote in its House of Commons in coming weeks.

The effort to rein in Trump on Iran is up in the air but is currently short of the simple majority it needs in the Senate. The House passed a resolution limiting Trump’s military authority last week.

“Get sworn in, then [do] whatever we end up doing on War Powers, maybe we get that done tomorrow. Then USMCA... in hopes we have that ready for floor action Thursday,” Thune said.