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January 13, 2020

USMCA Takes Another Step Forward In United States

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee last week approved ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on a bipartisan 25-3 vote. Another six Senate committees also must review the pact before it makes it to the Senate floor. (Those panels are: Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Environment and Public Works; Appropriations; Foreign Relations; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Budget.)

It is not yet clear when the full Senate will vote on ratification, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to say that action will have to wait until after his chamber has concluded the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The Senate does have a deadline it must work under, however. The Trump administration submitted implementing bill for the USMCA on December 13, 2019 and, under Trade Promotion Authority rules, Congress has 90 legislative (not calendar) days after that submission to approve or reject a free trade agreement. Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said he expects the full Senate to act well before that deadline. In Canada, meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised Parliament will approve USMCA “as quickly as we can.” Parliament is scheduled to return to Ottawa on January 27, 2020.