The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday easily approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement with a bipartisan 25-to-3 vote, potentially sending the trade pact up for a speedy full floor vote.
“We are now one step away from unleashing the competitiveness of America’s farmers and ranchers with our two largest trading partners thanks to today’s Senate Finance Committee vote,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will protect our valuable trade relationships with our nearest neighbors and return certainty to our markets. We urge immediate approval by the full Senate to deliver a much-needed win for agriculture.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said he hopes to get a floor vote “soon,” but much depends on the fluid impeachment situation. Once the House of Representatives sends over articles of impeachment, the Senate is required to give them priority, but that hasn’t happened yet.
“If the articles of impeachment don’t come over, I believe this can be up,” Grassley said.
That’s not assured, though, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not weighed in on the schedule.
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Grassley said full Senate approval for the USMCA — a priority for President Donald Trump and widely supported by both Republicans and Democrats — is virtually assured.
The House approved USMCA in a landslide vote of 385 to 41 on Dec. 19 after months of negotiations between Democrats and the Trump administration over labor, environment, enforcement and other provisions.
Two Republicans, Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and one Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, voted against reporting USMCA from the committee for very differing reasons. The Republicans stressed violations of process that are prohibiting input on the pact from Senators, Whitehouse complained that the pact did not contain provisions to counter global warming.
USMCA is also a priority for U.S. farmers and ranchers that depend on a North American trade pact to keep tariffs between the three countries at zero for most commodities.
"USMCA will allow the U.S. pork industry to maintain long-term, zero-duty market access to two of our largest export markets,” said National Pork Producers Council President David Herring. “We now urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to schedule a vote on the floor as soon as possible."
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