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House clears U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal in win for Trump

Bipartisan deals made despite impeachment

The House of Representatives passed the revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico on Thursday, handing President Trump a major legislative victory in the wake of the lower chamber's historic vote to impeach him.

The lower chamber approved the deal, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or the USMCA, with a bipartisan 385 to 41 vote.

"The USMCA is a transformative agreement that creates a new high water mark for U.S. trade deals going forward," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said in a speech on the House Floor. 

Passage of the trade pact, a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, is a top legislative priority for Mr. Trump and comes just a day after the House approved two articles of impeachment against him in a pair of party-line votes. The president accused House Democrats of holding up passage of the agreement as they pursued their impeachment inquiry, launched in September.

The House's approval of the USMCA is the culmination of months of negotiations between House Democrats and the Trump administration over the terms of the deal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Neal announced last week they reached a deal with the White House, paving the way for its passage by the full House, and secured stronger labor, pharmaceutical, environmental, and enforcement provisions.

The revisions to the USMCA won support for the trade agreement from the AFL-CIO, ensuring support from more House Democrats.

On Tuesday, the Ways and Means Committee passed a motion recommending the USMCA to the House floor for a vote.

The president and top administration officials have been fanning out across the country to promote the deal, and Mr. Trump touted its benefits for farmers and the auto industry during a rally in Michigan on Wednesday.

"We have one great deal, and now you have the Democrats trying to take credit for this deal, and that's OK, whatever it takes," the president said.

Pelosi said on Thursday that she doesn't care if approving the deal would be a legislative victory for Mr. Trump.

"We had an opportunity to do something very important for the American people, for American workers. And we could not let him stand in the way of that because he will take credit. So, this is not about him, it is about American workers. It's about being good neighbors in our hemisphere," Pelosi told reporters.

The USMCA, which was signed by Mr. Trump and the leaders of Canada and Mexico in November 2018, now heads to the Senate for approval. But the upper chamber is not expected to take up the trade pact until the new year.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told CBS News that USMCA is "going to provide certainty for this trading relationship."

"Canada and Mexico are our two largest trading partners, 12 million American jobs rely on goods and services that good back and forth between our three countries. This provides a lot of certainty for those employers and businesses," Bradley said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor last week the trade deal is a "major casualty of Speaker Pelosi's impeachment obsession."

"The speaker's 12 months of delay have made it literally impossible for the Senate to take up the agreement this year," he said last week, adding that a vote on the USMCA would have to come after an impeachment trial in the Senate.

But while the House approved articles of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Wednesday night, Pelosi has not sent the articles to the Senate because of concerns over whether there would be a "fair" Senate trial. 

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