Senate Moves Ahead on USMCA Amid Impeachment Uncertainty

Story by Bill Tomson

The Senate is moving ahead with the procedures needed to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement despite uncertainty over whether the impeachment process will bring the process to a halt.

The House of Representatives still has not sent the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. As soon as it does, they will take precedence and any progress on ratifying USMCA would come to a stop.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking to reporters Thursday, would not give a specific timeline on when she will transmit the impeachment articles.

“I’ll send them when I’m ready,” she said. “And that will probably be soon.”

In the meantime, she said Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested the Senate will move forward with USMCA, and she is fine with that.

All but one of the Senate committees needed to sign off on USMCA before a full floor vote can be held have indicated they will do so by the end of next week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Thursday. The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that seven committees must give the green light to USMCA. All of them except Appropriations have indicated they can get that done next week.

“You can see that the Senate is not going to dilly-dally around while we’re waiting to see what Speaker Pelosi wants to do on impeachment,” Grassley said.

“This is a good thing for America,” said Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, one of the panels that must approve USMCA. “It needs to get done.”

The Senate Finance Committee took the lead on USMCA this week and approved the pact by a 25-to-3 vote Tuesday.

Grassley said that even if the Appropriations Committee committed to taking up USMCA next week, the pact would not likely be able to get a full Senate vote until the week after.