The vote was 88-11 in favor of the non-binding measure, part of an ongoing effort led by some of Trump’s fellow Republicans who support free trade to push back against the president’s escalating effort to address what he sees as unfair foreign trade.
The vote came as China accused the United States of bullying and warned it would hit back after the Trump administration raised the stakes in a trade dispute by threatening 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
Some members of Congress have been concerned that trade disputes with China, as well as with allies like western European nations and Canada, could damage the U.S. economy by harming U.S. employers and raising prices for consumers.
The measure’s main sponsors – Republican Senators Bob Corker, Jeff Flake and Pat Toomey – said they considered Wednesday’s action a “test vote” for legislation introduced in June to require congressional approval of any tariffs imposed for national security reasons.
They said they still want a binding vote on that bill, which has not yet been brought up for a vote in the Senate.
The non-binding measure approved on Wednesday was a “motion to instruct” lawmakers finalizing a water and energy spending bill to ensure that Congress plays a role in implementing such tariffs.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by G Crosse and Dan Grebler