Senate vote on Trump's new NAFTA held up by committee review

Senate vote on Trump's new NAFTA held up by committee review
© Greg Nash

The Senate will not be able to approve President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE’s new North American trade deal for at least another week, said Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa) on Thursday.

Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Trump’s revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement must be approved by several other panels before the full chamber can vote to cement the agreement.

The Finance Committee on Tuesday approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by 25-3 vote. But Grassley said Thursday that at least six other panels must vote on the measure, a process that will stretch until Jan. 16 at the earliest.

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“It was a complete surprise to all of us that the parliamentarian said it should go to seven committees,” Grassley said Thursday, referring to the nonpartisan Senate officer that enforces the chamber’s rules for voting on legislation.

Grassley said the Senate Budget, Environment and Public Works, Commerce, Foreign Relations, and Appropriations committees will hold votes on the measure next week. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also announced on Wednesday a vote on the measure next week.

Grassley said that the full Senate would likely be able to vote on USMCA after the Foreign Relations Committee holds its vote next Thursday, though it likely wouldn't be approved until the following week.

The chairman added that he’s unsure of how the Senate’s schedule will be affected by the House’s impeachment of Trump. The Senate will be obligated to put most, if not all, legislation on hold and begin an impeachment trial soon after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats step up pressure on Biden on student loan forgiveness Climate activists target Manchin Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision MORE (D-Calif.) sends House-passed articles of impeachment to the upper chamber.

“The Senate’s not going to dilly-dally around while we're waiting to see what Speaker Pelosi wants to do on impeachment,” Grassley said. 

The Senate is likely to clear the USMCA with ample bipartisan support despite some complaints from conservatives over the process and final provisions of the deal.

A bill to implement the USMCA passed the House in December by a wide bipartisan margin after Democrats secured significant victories in negotiations with the White House. While many Republicans have expressed concerns about the leftward lurch of the agreement, the GOP is eager to finalize Trump’s biggest win on trade policy ahead of the presidential election. 

“It’s been around too long. It’s ready to be acted on,” said Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Bipartisan senators call for Biden to confront Moscow over staffing ban at US embassies MORE (R-Idaho), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

“This is a good thing for America. This needs to get going."