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After delays, USMCA to pass Congress Thursday: top Republican

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"We anticipate the Senate will finish the USMCA tomorrow and send this landmark trade deal to President Trump for his signature," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday.

[WASHINGTON] The US Senate will vote on Thursday to approve a landmark trade pact with Canada and Mexico, the chamber's top Republican said, likely delivering a victory to President Donald Trump as he faces an impeachment trial.

"We anticipate the Senate will finish the USMCA tomorrow and send this landmark trade deal to President Trump for his signature," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday.

Mr McConnell said passage of the long-awaited agreement would be "important good news for the country" and "a major victory for the administration."

The deal languished in Congress for months as Democrats demanded US officials re-negotiate key elements including labor provisions, a move that won over some free-trade-skeptic Democrats.

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The measure, which Mr Trump hailed in December as "the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA," has substantial bipartisan support and is expected to pass.

The USMCA replaces the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement by updating rules on auto manufacturing, e-commerce, intellectual property restrictions and labour provisions.

It cleared the US House last month by an overwhelming bipartisan majority - an unusual occurrence in the current political atmosphere.

Senators have appeared eager to fast-track USMCA in order to clear the decks before Mr Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate begins next week.

The USMCA vote is likely to occur Thursday morning, given that US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts arrives at the Senate at 2.00pm to be sworn in and then convene a court of impeachment for Mr Trump's trial.

AFP