Chuck Grassley

(Washington, D.C.) -- A Senate vote on final approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement may take longer than many in ag and other sectors hoped, even with the uncertainty surrounding the timing of an impeachment trial.

With USMCA approval by the Senate Finance Committee now done, the hope was the full Senate could take up the lucrative North American Free Trade Agreement replacement quickly.

However, Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley says that might not happen as quickly as many in agriculture and manufacturing hoped—since his panel’s not the only one involved.

“There’s something dealing with the Budget Committee, Environment Committee, Commerce Committee, and maybe a couple of others. So, I don’t think that’s going to be any impediment in getting it brought up in the Senate—it may affect the timing a little bit.”

Grassley’s office says the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plans to vote on USMCA next Wednesday, so a Senate vote would have to wait ‘til after that and the other panels vote.

After that, Grassley says it’s up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“McConnell can bring it up, unless the Articles of Impeachment have come over here. And if that happens, like you heard me say, Articles of Impeachment has priority over everything else.”

The sooner USMCA takes effect, the sooner U.S. farmers and manufacturers can start to recover trade losses from tariff fights.

Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts says his Kansas farmers have suffered long enough from low prices and lost markets.

“If we are not leading the charge and setting the rules, other countries will—and they are. LBJ once said, ‘Sometimes you just have to hump her down like a jackass in a hail storm.’ And that’s just about the way our farmers have been doing for the last four-years.”

USMCA is seen as a big answer to producers’ long-running problems, and experts argue, gives the U.S. new trade credibility with China, the EU, UK and others. Most of all, it means greater market certainty for U.S. farmers and ranchers.