The U.S. Senate has approved by a vote of 89 to 10 the required implementing legislation for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). After months of negotiations by Democrats in the House of Representatives with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (see Trump and Trade Update of December 10, 2019 and Trump and Trade Update of December 16, 2019), H.R. 5430 was quickly passed through the various House Committees and passed by a wide, bi-partisan vote of 385 to 41 on December 19, 2019. Upon receipt in the Senate, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. However, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the Committees on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Environment and Public Works; Appropriations; Foreign Relations; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and the Budget also had jurisdiction and oversight. On January 15, 2020, all Senate Committees favorably approved the legislation and reported it to the full Senate for consideration.

Debate in the Senate was limited to 20 hours under the rules set forth in the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – often referred to as “fast track” authority. TPA allows Congress to consider required implementing legislation under expedited procedures for any trade agreements that require changes in U.S. law. Under TPA procedures, the legislation may come to the floor without action and receives an up-or-down vote with no amendments allowed. Now that the Senate has passed H.R. 5430, the legislation will be sent to President Donald Trump, who has indicated the White House will schedule a signing ceremony for the new law during the week of January 20, 2020.

Upon presidential signature, it should be noted, the new USMCA will still not enter into force. While Mexico has ratified the USMCA (see Trump and Trade Update of June 20, 2019), Canada must still consider and ratify the agreement, and its legislative body does not reconvene until January 27, 2020.