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January 14, 2020 4:30 PM, EST

Senate to Vote on USMCA This Week, McConnell Says

Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell by Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

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The Senate will pass the U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada this week before President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Passage of the accord will be good “for the Senate and the country,” McConnell said, adding that he expected the deal would get bipartisan support.

Several senators said they expected a vote in the chamber as soon as Jan. 16.

Senate committees have been moving quickly to advance the bill to implement the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which passed the House last month. The Senate Budget Committee advanced the deal Jan. 14 on a voice vote. The Foreign Relations Committee changed its hearing from Jan. 16 to Jan. 15 to act more quickly on the trade agreement, and the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to act on the same day.

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The House is expected to send the impeachment articles over Jan. 15, but the Senate trial, which must be prioritized over other Senate business, will likely start next week.

It passed the House on a 385-41 vote the day after Democrats impeached Trump. McConnell initially said he wouldn’t take up the USMCA until after the impeachment trial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s delay in sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate created an opening to accelerate the vote on the trade deal.

The USMCA is one of Trump’s top priorities. Trump, along with leaders of Canada and Mexico, signed the initial version of the USMCA in November 2018, but Democrats insisted on changes to labor, environment, enforcement and drug patent protection provisions before putting the deal to a vote.

It won backing from Democrats and most Republicans after negotiations on altering the pact.

With assistance from Jenny Leonard and Steven T. Dennis.

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