Congress faces high-stakes week with impeachment, trade and funding votes ahead

Key Points
  • Congress will hold several high-stakes votes this week on impeachment, the USMCA trade agreement and government funding. 
  • President Donald Trump could become only the third American president to get impeached by the House. 
  • Even so, the House is set to approve one of the president's top political priorities in his replacement for NAFTA.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press conference on December 12, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Congress aims to tackle a string of pivotal votes this week as it rushes to tie up work before the end of the year.

A flurry of activity will take place in the House, which plans to vote on whether to impeach President Donald Trump. If the chamber succeeds, he would become only the third president impeached in U.S. history.

The House will hold two other key votes. Congress needs to pass spending bills before Friday to avoid a government shutdown. The House hopes to approve legislation early in the week, to give the Senate plenty of time to pass the measures.

The chamber will also move to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the president's replacement for NAFTA and one of his top policy priorities. House Democrats got behind the trade deal this week after they secured changes to boost labor enforcement, among other tweaks to the Trump administration's deal. The White House sent implementing text to Congress on Friday afternoon, starting the ratification process.

It sets up one of the most dramatic weeks of Trump's presidency, a stretch of days that will define both the gripes and boasts he will deploy during his 2020 reelection bid. The House is set to pass one of Trump's signature proposals right around the time it impeaches him — a contradiction partly by design as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi aims to show her party can both legislate and investigate the president's alleged abuses of power.

The House could vote on funding on Tuesday, followed by impeachment on Wednesday and USMCA on Thursday, NBC News reported, citing a Democratic leadership aide. The timing could change.

House Judiciary Committee passes both articles of impeachment against Trump
House Judiciary Committee passes both articles of impeachment against Trump

After a long, emotionally charged hearing, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Friday to send two articles of impeachment to the House floor. The chamber charges the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, stemming from efforts to get Ukraine to investigate a top political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

The Democratic-held chamber is expected to impeach Trump — potentially without any Republican support. The GOP-controlled Senate then plans to hold a trial in January, though it likely will not remove the president from office.

Meanwhile, top congressional appropriators said Thursday they reached an agreement in principle on 12 spending bills to keep the government running past Friday's deadline. The House and Senate still need to finalize the deal before next week.

Trump, as usual, could decide whether the appropriations deal gets through Congress. He has not yet said whether he will support the developing agreement, and his opposition could jeopardize its passage in the Senate.

At the same time, the House will move quickly to ratify the North American trade deal. The Ways and Means Committee has set a bill markup for Tuesday, after which it can send the agreement to the House floor.

The chamber then hopes to approve the three-nation agreement before the end of the week. Business groups and Republicans have pushed for Congress to approve the deal. Most Democrats appear to be on board following the labor enforcement changes.

In a sign of the bipartisan support USMCA could garner, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced they would vote for the deal. Brown, who has a reputation as a populist with close ties to organized labor, said in a statement that "this will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for."

One of this week's legislative priorities has consumed the president more than the others. The president tweeted or retweeted dozens of times on Thursday and Friday, and in most of those cases he shared videos of allies criticizing the House's impeachment process.

"The Do Nothing Democrats have become the Party of lies and deception! The Republicans are the Party of the American Dream!" he wrote on Friday.

Donald Trump tweet

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