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 GrassleyExpanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support Grassley, Leahy urge Roberts to permanently air Supreme Court arguments Democrats broaden probe into firing of State Department watchdog MORE (R-Iowa) is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFor city parks: Pass the Great American Outdoors Act now US ill-prepared for coronavirus-fueled mental health crisis Schumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe 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 Pelosi Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death 5 things to know about US-China tensions over Hong Kong Pelosi calls Trump's decision to withdraw US from WHO 'an act of extraordinary senselessness' 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 senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas Castro, Warren, Harris to speak at Texas Democratic virtual convention Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight 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 TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points 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.