Senate passes USMCA trade deal amid impeachment proceedings


rarrarorro/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A revised trilateral trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada (USMCA) was passed by the Senate on Thursday, marking the second victory this week for the Trump administration’s trade agenda.The largely bipartisan vote — 89-10 in favor of the legislation — comes only a day after President Donald Trump celebrated the signing of a partial trade agreement with China, marking a de-escalation of the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries.The USMCA, which renames and revises the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, was agreed to last year by the leadership of all three nations but must be ratified by each individual country to be implemented.The revised agreement — which now heads to the president’s desk for signature — will expand market access for American dairy producers and aims to support auto manufacturing in North America. The new trade rules also include updates for digital trade and copyright rules.The Mexican government has already ratified the agreement and the deal awaits the Canadian government’s approval.The White House has yet to announce plans for the signing of the agreement, which would represents a fulfilled campaign promise from the administration. Trump has long blasted NAFTA as “the worst trade deal ever made” and even campaigned in 2016 on negotiating a new deal.The Trump administration worked with Democrats for more than a year to compromise on labor and environmental standards included in the legislation.While the president continues to say that the deal will “end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA,” his implication that the USMCA is a monumentally different agreement is misleading. USMCA makes some tweaks to the previous trade agreement, but it is not as dramatically different as the president suggests.In a surprising flash of bipartisanship just a day after the president’s formal impeachment in December, the House passed the USMCA legislation 385-41.Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hailed the revamped deal as beneficial for farmers and ranchers in particular.In an interesting parallel, the Senate’s passage directly preceded the official reading of the articles of impeachment against Trump, as a Senate trial now gets underway.The lawmakers that voted against the bill are Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Ed Markey, Jack Reed, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, Chuck Schumer, Pat Toomey and Sheldon Whitehouse.Schumer, Senate minority leader, posted his reasoning on Twitter just before the vote.Still, the passage will give Republicans a positive point of contrast to the impeachment proceedings.”Quite a week of substantive accomplishments for the nation, for the president and for our international trade,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before the vote. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.