USMCA on Backburner Now?

Senator Warns Democrats Not to Stall USMCA Over Impeachment Inquiry

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
The House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump risks stalling some key pieces of legislation, including the USMCA trade agreement. (DTN file photo)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- After months of campaigning for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump could derail the trade deal.

The White House and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, signaled Tuesday that the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry might mean that Congress will not take up approval of USMCA.

Grassley said, "If Democrats use impeachment proceedings as a basis to not act on policy that will directly benefit Americans like the USMCA or lowering prescription drug prices, that would prove they're more interested in politics and opposing the president at all costs than serving the American people."

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, issued a statement that, "In a far departure from all of the work and results of this president, House Democrats have destroyed any chances of legislative progress for the people of this country by continuing to focus all their energy on partisan political attacks."

"Their attacks on the president and his agenda are not only partisan and pathetic, they are in dereliction of their constitutional duty," Grisham said.

Just over the past two weeks, farm groups and former secretaries of Agriculture had held events in Washington encouraging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to bring the new trade deal to the floor. Agricultural groups see USMCA boosting exports to Canada and stabilizing trade with Mexico, two of the top markets for agricultural exports.

The vast majority of Democrats on the House Agriculture agree with Pelosi's decision to begin a formal impeachment inquiry against the president, but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said that he fears the impeachment inquiry will be "a failed process."

In a statement from his personal office, Peterson said, "I believe it will be a failed process that will end up even further dividing our country and weakening our ability to act together on issues like passing USMCA [proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade], containing foreign threats and growing our economy."

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., a freshman who chairs the House Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee, was among the seven freshmen from moderate swing districts who led Pelosi announce the impeachment inquiry.

Spanberger, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, and six other House freshmen wrote an opinion column published in The Washington Post charging that if Trump used his position to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, these actions "represent an impeachable offense."

The Cook Political Report has declared Peterson's re-election race to be a toss-up. David Wasserman, the Cook Report House editor, said the organization also ranks Spanberger's re-election race as a toss-up.

The New York Times reports 205 members of the House of Representatives support the inquiry, all but one are Democrats. The list of those supporting the inquiry includes a number of members of the House Agriculture Committee.

Spanberger represents suburban and rural areas west of Richmond. The House leadership's decision to make her a subcommittee chair was unusual for a freshman and viewed as a way to shore up her support.

Of the 26 Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee, at least 20 have announced their support for the impeachment inquiry.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@njdc.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

(CC/BAS)

Jerry Hagstrom