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'Total nonsense': Democrats rip McConnell on delaying USMCA vote until after impeachment trial

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 12/11/2019 Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY
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WASHINGTON — After weeks of blaming Democrats for delaying President Donald Trump's renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., said Tuesday he would delay it further.

"We will not be doing USMCA in the Senate between now and next week," McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. "That will happen, in all likelihood, right after the trial is finished in the Senate."

More: Donald Trump, House Democrats strike deal on revised trade pact with Mexico, Canada

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The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) would replace the former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). And although lawmakers have spent months negotiating over key issues within the agreement, including labor laws and standards, and environmental protections, McConnell now says that the Senate will not take up the issue until after the impeachment trial, which he also clarified wouldn't be taken up until after the holidays.

“What is not possible obviously would be to turn to an impeachment trial or to do USMCA in the Senate before we break for Christmas,” McConnell stated while laying out the agenda for the remainder of the year.

Striking an agreement between House Democrats and Trump to revise the trade deal with Mexico and Canada delivered a win for the president on a top legislative priority on the same day House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against him.  

Trump has been pushing Congress to ratify the USMCA before the end of the year. Republicans have been accusing Democrats of stalling the trade agreement because of the impeachment inquiry.  

Deputy Communications Director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that it was "total nonsense" McConnell couldn't take up the USMCA before the year's end.

McConnell took to Twitter Tuesday afternoon, saying that the "Democrats’ impeachment obsession has delayed crucial governing responsibilities to the 11th hour" and that they have been blocking "Basic, bipartisan work for our country." 

Democrats were quick to point out that the House has passed hundreds of bills that have been sent to McConnell but have yet to be heard in the Senate, inaction many have come to name "McConnell's legislative graveyard." 

More: This is the gun control legislation Mitch McConnell won't allow senators to vote on

Democrat Amy McGrath, who is challenging McConnell for his seat in Kentucky, also tweeted about hundreds of bills that have been passed by the House and are currently waiting to go to the Senate.

"Is this your attempt at a joke?" Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, asked McConnell on Twitter. 

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., asked McConnell if he needed "reminding that the Democratic House has passed 275+ bipartisan bills?" He continued by calling McConnell "the self-appointed 'grim reaper'" and said McConnell "refused to even allow a debate on life-saving bills like universal background checks. He may not believe in facts, but they speak for themselves." 

More: Trump slams Democrats during Pennsylvania rally, claims opponents 'embarrassed' by impeachment

Trump commented on House Democrats' support of USMCA during his rally Tuesday in Pennsylvania, saying that, "The silver lining of impeachment and this witch hunt, that's the reason they approved USMCA." 

"They were very embarrassed by it," Trump said of impeachment. 

USA TODAY has reached out to McConnell's office for a response. 

The Senate calendar for 2020 leaves the entire month of January blank, signaling lawmakers believe the impeachment trial could take up the month. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Total nonsense': Democrats rip McConnell on delaying USMCA vote until after impeachment trial

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