The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Saturday that would shield U.S. airlines from paying for their carbon emissions on European flights, pressuring the European Union to back down from applying its emissions law to foreign carriers.
The European Commission has been enforcing its law since January to make all airlines take part in its Emissions Trading Scheme to combat global warming, prompting threats of a trade fight.
The Senate approved the bill shortly after midnight, as it scrambled to complete business to recess ahead of the November 6 congressional and presidential elections.
Republican Senator John Thune, a sponsor of the measure, said it sent a "strong message" to the EU that it cannot impose taxes on the United States.
"The Senate's action today will help ensure that U.S. air carriers and passengers will not be paying down European debt through this illegal tax and can instead be investing in creating jobs and stimulating our own economy," Thune said in a statement.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, the measure's other chief sponsor, said, "It's refreshing to see strong, bipartisan support for the commonsense notion that Americans shouldn't be forced to pay a European tax when flying in U.S. airspace."
The House of Representatives has passed a similar measure, and could either work out differences with the Senate's version or accept the Senate bill when Congress returns for a post-election session.
Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman, said the administration is reviewing the bill. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.