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"We are waiting": Day after impeachment, House urges Senate to act on the bills it passed this year

Bipartisan deals made despite impeachment

Washington — A day after impeaching President Trump, the House is moving on and it wants the Senate to follow.

The impeachment inquiry consumed the House for the past couple of months, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on Thursday to urge the Senate to act on the bills it has passed.

The House passed more than 400 bills this year — 275 of them with bipartisan support. Pelosi, joined by several freshman members of the House, stood next to a toddler-sized stack of paper that represented all of the bills that are sitting in the Senate. 

"The time to act is now, Senator McConnell. We are waiting," said Florida Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that his priority is confirming judges, not passing legislation. 

"My motto for the remainder of this Congress is leave no vacancy behind," he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday.

House Democrats highlighted bills lying dormant in the Senate that would lower prescription drug costs, sign the United States back onto the Paris Climate Agreement, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and strengthen gun control laws.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks alongside a stack of legislation the House has passed as she holds a press conference with fellow Democrats on December 19, 2019.  Getty/Saul Loeb

Mucarsel-Powell also pushed for action on a bill that would provide so-called Dreamers, young adults brought to the U.S. by their parents, a pathway to citizenship.

"Our Dreamers are as American as any one of us, except on paper," she said.

Katie Porter, a California representative, advocated for the Raise the Wage Act that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 within six years.

"Working families shouldn't have to choose between putting a roof over their heads and putting food on the table," she said.

Lucy McBath, a congresswoman from Illinois, praised Congress for funding gun violence research but called on the Senate to pass bills that would close gun loopholes and strengthen background checks. She was driven to run for office after her son was shot and killed while sitting in the backseat of a friend's car at a gas station.

"It's not about partisan politics. It's about saving lives," she said.

USMCA

The House Democrats also addressed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is set to pass Thursday afternoon.

Unlike most legislation, the Senate is expected to sign the trade deal because it hands Mr. Trump a major victory. He campaigned on a pledge to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It's the result of months of negotiations with the White House.

McConnell, however, said the Senate won't vote on it until after the impeachment trial and blamed "Speaker Pelosi's impeachment obsession."

Congresswoman Haley Stevens, of Michigan, pressured him on Wednesday to take action sooner.

USMCA, she said, "is a long overdue compromise ... that you don't see so often in this body. ... The question is, will the Senate act?"

Impeachment

Mr. Trump is the third U.S. president to be impeached. The House voted to impeach him for abusing his power and for obstructing Congress. The first charge relates to his dealings with Ukraine. He solicited election help from the foreign country. The latter charge is the result of him blocking evidence and witnesses from the House impeachment inquiry.

The impeachment process now heads to the Senate, which will hold a trial. Before that can happen, the House must name "impeachment managers," who act as prosecutors during the trial. But Pelosi said the House won't name impeachment managers until the Senate finalizes its procedures for the trial.

The Senate still has to determine whether to call witnesses, what kind of evidence to admit, and how long to make the trial.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Katie Porter as a representative of Iowa. She is in fact a representative of California.

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