KEY POINTS

  • McConnell wants the Senate to vote on USMCA before impeachment trial
  • A floor vote is likely to happen this week
  • The USMCA passed the House with large bipartisan support

With the Senate poised to begin its impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Republicans are hoping to first cement a major victory for the White House by confirming Trump’s trade deal.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate will pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) soon. “We hope to complete an enormous accomplishment for this administration, and most importantly for American families,” McConnell said.

Senate Republicans are rushing to prepare the USMCA bill for a floor vote, although doing so will require cooperation, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told The Hill. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the general expectation is that the vote will happen this week.

McConnell had originally said that there likely wouldn’t be a floor vote on the USMCA until after the impeachment trial. That was before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chose to delay handing over the articles of impeachment for nearly a month. However, that statement has come to an end, with the impeachment process formally moving to the Senate this week.

In the weeks before Congress’ holiday recess, the Senate spent little time on legislation, instead focusing on a number of federal court appointments. Although Democrats protested these swift confirmations, the Republicans’ majority effectively made it impossible for Democrats to act.

The USMCA passed the House with wide bipartisan support last year, an unusual accomplishment in the current political environment. It is expected to pass the Senate and once in effect, it will replace the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA).

Among the provisions included in the trade deal is American dairy farmers’ new access to Canadian markets as well as reforms to Mexico’s labor laws, including an increase in automobile workers’ pay.

Despite being supported by many Democrats, the USMCA became a point of contention during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate. While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that a better trade deal could be achieved, right now the USMCA “will give some relief” to struggling American farmers. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on the other hand, said he does not support the trade deal, criticizing it for not including provisions about restricting fossil fuel emissions.

IMAGES AND SOUNDBITESAs the US Senate is set to hold an impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell slams democrats, condemning "the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern his As the US Senate is set to hold an impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell slams democrats, condemning "the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history". Photo: United States Senate /