Updated Jan 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate passes USMCA trade deal

Senator Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Senate voted 89-10 Thursday to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Why it matters: The deal now heads to President Trump's desk for his signature, allowing the president to accomplish one of his biggest policy goals ahead of his 2020 re-election battle — hours before the official start of his impeachment trial

  • The Senate moved quickly to pass the deal just before it takes up the impeachment articles against Trump from the House, kicking off a trial that will monopolize its next few weeks of business.

The big picture, via Axios' Jonathan Swan: No traditional Republican would have agreed to this deal in the pre-Trump era. It's a deal tailor-made for organized labor and protectionist Democrats.

  • That Republicans are willing to vote for it is a testament to the awesome power Trump wields over his party.
  • Trump didn't care about traditional GOP trade priorities and he made Republicans irrelevant to the negotiations.

Worth noting: Democrats, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, realized that passing USMCA was just as important for their representatives in swing districts ahead of 2020, per Axios' Alayna Treene and Stef Kight.

  • The deal's passage provides Pelosi the ability to argue on the campaign trail that she can both impeach Trump — and still get significant legislation passed.

The other side: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were among those to oppose the deal's passage on the grounds that it does not address climate change.

  • Other senators to vote "no" included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — the only Republican senator to oppose the deal.

Go deeper: The trade deal that might survive impeachment

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