- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sen. Charles E. Grassley on Thursday said GOP chairmen are working to approve President Trump’s North American trade deal so it is ready for a floor vote, especially if House Democrats prolong a parallel impeachment trial.

Earlier Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said the deal could leapfrog the trial on Mr. Trump’s removal if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clings to the articles of impeachment for much longer.

The parliamentarian for the upper chamber has determined that several Senate committees must approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, so the panels are lining up votes for next week.

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“You can see the Senate’s not going to dilly-dally around while we’re waiting to see what Speaker Pelosi wants to do on impeachment,” Mr. Grassley, Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said. “These committees are going to act very quickly next week, and whenever the leader decides to bring this up, we’ll be ready to go.”

Mr. Grassley’s committee approved the USMCA by an overwhelming margin on Tuesday. The deal is designed to open up markets for American farmers and ranchers, shore up labor standards and spur production in the automobile sector while avoiding onerous tariffs.

“This is a good thing for America. It needs to get done,” said Sen. James Risch, Idaho Republican.

The House approved the deal in December, sending it to the Senate, though the timing of a floor vote hinges on when the chamber receives the articles of impeachment, which will take precedence over legislative action.

Mr. Trump sees his overhaul of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as the fulfillment of his campaign pledge to tilt trade deals back in favor of U.S. workers. He’s eager to tout the bipartisan win on the 2020 trail.

Mr. Pence on Thursday said the Senate doesn’t need to wait for the articles of impeachment before acting on the deal.

“The USMCA is a huge win for American farmers, a huge win for American workers,” he told the “Fox and Friends” program. “While the House of Representatives dithers with their partisan impeachment, the Senate should move on the USMCA and keep this booming economy booming.”

Mr. Grassley said it’s unlikely the full Senate could act on the deal next week, since one of the committee votes is scheduled for Thursday.

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