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Grassley urges McConnell to take quick action on USMCA ahead of impeachment trial

Grassley urges McConnell to take quick action on USMCA ahead of impeachment trial
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBarrett confirmation stokes Democrats' fears over ObamaCare On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Grassley: Voters should be skeptical of Biden's pledge to not raise middle class taxes MORE (R-Iowa) is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' On The Money: Trump makes a late pitch on the economy | US economy records record GDP gains after historic COVID-19 drop | Pelosi eyes big COVID-19 deal in lame duck Lawmakers say infrastructure efforts are falling victim to deepening partisan divide MORE (R-Ky.) to take quick action on the long-awaited U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) before an impeachment trial begins in the upper chamber. 

Grassley said he is hoping to get the agreement passed in the next several days, before Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' On The Money: Trump makes a late pitch on the economy | US economy records record GDP gains after historic COVID-19 drop | Pelosi eyes big COVID-19 deal in lame duck Pelosi challenger calls delay on COVID-19 relief bill the 'privilege of politics' MORE (D-Calif.) sends the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which could delay a USMCA vote for weeks.

The Iowa senator said McConnell "wants to do something significant" while the Senate waits for articles of impeachment to come over from the House and that "this would fall into that category."

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However, he warned that if the articles come soon, the Senate will have to move immediately to the impeachment trial. 

"The minute those articles come over, that takes precedence under the rules and under the Constitution," he said, noting that the USMCA would then "have to come afterward."

Several Senate committees have jurisdiction over subjects in the trade deal and are currently reviewing it, which could be “a problem” when it comes to quickly pushing the agreement through the upper chamber, the Senate Finance Committee chairman cautioned. The panel voted 25-3 on Tuesday to approve implementing legislation for the deal.  

McConnell had said last month that the Senate would not take up the USMCA until an impeachment vote, but that was before Pelosi announced she was withholding the articles. 

Nevertheless, John CornynJohn CornynGOP sees path to hold Senate majority Cook moves Texas to 'toss-up' Biden pushes into Trump territory MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell, indicated that the USMCA was unlikely to pass this week. 

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"There are seven committees, so I think they're trying to coordinate that," he said. "I think that's a procedural challenge, and then of course there's a race to the floor. Even if we were to take up the USMCA on the floor, my understanding is that the articles of impeachment would displace it, so it's a bit of a muddle." 

Pelosi has not given the House-passed articles of impeachment to the Senate, calling for more details about the proposed rules for the trial. She has not indicated when she will submit the articles. 

The House passed articles accusing President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform's pre-election blackout Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' Harris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden MORE of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress last month after a months-long inquiry.

The trade agreement, designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, was also passed in the lower chamber last month after negotiations between the administration and lawmakers, the day after the president was impeached.

Justine Coleman contributed.