House GOP leader says 'we get USMCA done' this year despite Dem focus on Trump impeachment

Key Points
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy accuses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of prioritizing the Trump impeachment over the trade deal and jeopardizing economic growth.
  • However, the California Republican predicts passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by the end of the year.
  • The House has a lot on its plate before its planned Dec. 20 holiday recess after Pelosi directed Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment.
Watch CNBC's full interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy predicted Friday that Congress will pass the North American Free Trade Agreement replacement by the end of the year, despite Democrats' focus on impeaching President Donald Trump.

"I actually believe we get USMCA done," the California Republican told CNBC's "Squawk Box," referring to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which would supplant NAFTA, now 25 years old. "I do expect it to come."

In addition to Republicans on Capitol Hill, top Trump officials have also been pushing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a ratification vote by the end of the year. The USMCA, agreed to by all three nations in October 2018, is regarded as one of the administration's key economic accomplishments to date.

Positive indications were made in mid-November when Pelosi said that final agreement on the deal was "imminent." Days later, though, she said there may not be time to finish negotiations before 2020.

House Democrats have a lot on their plates before the planned Dec. 20 holiday recess. The Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing Monday on the evidence gathered in the Trump impeachment inquiry after Pelosi on Thursday told the House committees investigating the president to proceed with impeachment articles.

As time dwindles, an increasing number of Republicans have accused Democrats of disregarding economic policy as they move forward with impeachment.

McCarthy on Friday accused Pelosi of prioritizing the impeachment inquiry and jeopardizing the United States' growth by not calling a vote on USMCA. "She's more concerned with maybe tearing down this president instead of building this country up," he added. "She has given everything to impeachment."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made similar comments in November. "If the House cannot pass the USMCA this year, there is no way they'll be able to claim the people's business has not taken a backseat to impeachment," he told reporters at the time.

A spokesperson for Pelosi did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pelosi has repeatedly said she believes the House can legislate and carry out the impeachment inquiry at the same time.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.