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

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight | Conservative group to spend M attacking Pelosi drug plan | Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states On The Money: Senate panel advances Trump’s new NAFTA despite GOP gripes | Trade deficit falls to three-year low | Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief Grassley urges McConnell to take quick action on USMCA ahead of impeachment trial MORE (R-Iowa) is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi digs in on impeachment rules fight McConnell takes round one in impeachment battle Overnight Defense: Iran takes credit for rocket attack on US base | Trump briefed | Trump puts talk of Iraq withdrawal on hold | Progressives push to block funding for Iran war | Trump backs off threat to hit Iranian cultural sites 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 PelosiPelosi digs in on impeachment rules fight Pelosi urges end to ‘needless provocations’ after Iran missile attack ‘It’s a spiral now’: Democrats say they’re not surprised by Iran attack 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 CornynGrassley urges McConnell to take quick action on USMCA ahead of impeachment trial Trump and Pelosi clash over Iran, impeachment Bolton shakes up impeachment debate 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 TrumpIranian diplomat after strike: ‘We do not seek escalation or war’ Graham: Iran missile attack ‘an act of war’ ‘All is well’ Trump tweets after Iran hits Iraq bases housing US troops 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.

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