Fox News Today:
A striking scene is playing out in Washington as 2019 comes to a close. While Democrats move swiftly toward President Trump’s likely impeachment, the president has at the same time notched a string of policy victories — some with the help of the same House Democrats trying to drive him from office.
“Despite their partisan impeachment, Trump has remained focused on how to keep our economy growing …” Vice President Pence crowed in a recent op-ed for The Detroit News, pointing to a pending trade deal that is a centerpiece of the administration’s year-end agenda.
In a spectacular twist of political timing, that deal could be approved in the full House alongside articles of impeachment later this week. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade pact meant to replace NAFTA, has enjoyed bipartisan support and could make its way to the floor for adoption by Thursday or Friday.
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he won’t consider the USMCA until a Senate trial is complete, passage in the House would give Trump a policy win in the most challenging of political environments and pad his presidential resume heading into 2020.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been peppered with questions about the curious side-by-side votes, but said Democrats made the trade deal better in negotiations and played off the timing as the product of the usual end-of-year deadlines.
“No, it’s not a coincidence, it’s just as we get to the end of a session there have to be some decisions made,” she told reporters Tuesday.
USMCA is just one major area where Trump has seen progress in recent weeks. With the threat of a government shutdown looming, Congress also reached a tentative agreement for a budget that includes $1.3 billion for the border wall that was one of Trump’s signature campaign promises in 2016 — though funding continues to face court challenges.
On top of that, a sweeping defense bill cleared the House with several Trump priorities attached, including a new branch of the military called the U.S. Space Force and a policy giving federal employees 12 weeks of paid family leave. Trump declared “all of our priorities” made it into the package.
The trade war between the U.S. and China also appears to be easing, with Trump announcing that China has agreed to a preliminary trade deal, though details have yet to be revealed.
The president also reached a milestone last week, when his 50th federal appellate court judge was confirmed.
That nominee, Lawrence VanDyke, faced a grueling confirmation process after a scathing negative review from the American Bar Association that left Republicans calling the ABA’s evaluation process into question. VanDyke now joins the bench for the Ninth Circuit, once notably liberal but now gradually being reshaped as 10 of its 30 active seats are taken by Trump appointees.
While all this is happening, the House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his efforts to convince Ukraine to launch investigations that could help his 2020 campaign. A final roll call in the full House is expected this week.
House Democratic leaders have left no doubt how they feel about Trump’s actions, even as the chamber boosts parts of his agenda seen as popular in many members’ districts.
A massive impeachment report issued overnight by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., stated: “This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election, as well as President Trump’s other actions, present a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain.”
A Democratic majority means impeachment is likely, though the 31 Democrats from districts that supported Trump in 2016 are facing a difficult choice.
Still, the GOP-controlled Senate is already looking ahead to a trial, where the GOP majority and high threshold for conviction make Trump’s acquittal all but certain.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.