The Senate approved yesterday, 60-to-39, a bill to limit imports of textiles, shoes and copper that has emerged as the leading edge of Congress' assault on record trade deficits.
The victory margain fell short of the 67 votes needed to override an almost certain presidential veto if all 100 members are present.
Nonetheless, the chances of winning an override vote were strengthened by the addition of the import-battered copper and shoe industries to a bill that started as a measure to help U.S. textile makers.
Senate vote-counters said including copper could add three votes in favor of an override.
The House a month ago approved legislation that placed sharper restrictions on textile imports but offered no help to the U.S. shoe and copper industries.
The House is expected to accept the Senate version.
Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), a main sponsor of the legislation, said it would be "difficult, but not impossible," to win an override vote. But he said a veto by President Reagan, "would hurt" Republican chances in the South.
Administration lobbyists expressed concern over the increased number of votes supporters received in beating back a series of crippling amendments.
While these were not enough to win an override struggle with the president, they showed the measure had gathered support since two test votes last month.
Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), who described the bill as "very discriminatory, protectionist legislation," said many senators supported the bill because of strong constituent pressures, despite "many qualms."
"They don't like it at all. It is an embarrassment to Congress to pass a bill like this," he added.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) voted for the bill, but indicated he expects it to lose support on a veto override.
"What will happen will be another question for many on both sides of the aisle" if there is a presidential veto, he said.
Nonetheless, the bill showed strong bipartisan support, centered largely in the textile and apparel producing states of the South and Northeast.
The strongest opposition came from farm states and the Pacific Northwest. Senators from those areas said they feared curbs on textiles would bring retaliation against exports from their regions.
The textile bill surged forward in Congress this fall when lawmakers returned from their August holiday determined to act on the record trade deficit, which is expected to reach $150 billion this year.
With about two-thirds of the House and more than half the Senate signed on as cosponsors, the textile measure became the vanguard of congressional anger on trade.
The congressional push was blunted slightly last month by President Reagan's more forceful stance on the trade deficit, but appeared to gather new steam in the past few weeks.
Thurmond and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) pressed the measure as a jobs bill, arguing that 350,000 textile workers had lost work because of surging imports.
"Unless something is done to stop these massive imports coming in, you won't have a textile industry. What I am talking about is jobs, jobs for Americans. Let's keep these jobs here. Jobs are important," said Thurmond.
The Senate bill would:
*Cut back textile imports from the three leading suppliers -- Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong -- by as much as 30 percent and place limits on shipments from other major suppliers: China, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Brazil and Singapore.
Imports from Canada and western Europe are not touched, leading to charges that the measure discriminates against Third World nations.
The House-passed version leaves China as a major supplier that would face sharp rollbacks.
The Senate sponsors eliminated China in hopes of avoiding a presidential veto.
*Limit imports of nonrubber footwear for eight years to 60 percent of the U.S. market.
*Require the president to negotiate voluntary restraint agreements with other countries to limit their copper sales in the United States in much the same way that steel imports are limited.
Before passing the bill, the Senate beat back amendments by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.) that would effectively gut the bill by exempting countries that purchase large amounts of U.S. farm products from its provisions.
Also defeated were amendments offered by Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) that would have exempted Hong Kong on the basis of its free trade policy and Taiwan because it would be hit harder than China.
Support for the textile bill was so firm that one of the Senate's greatest supporters of Taiwan, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), voted against the amendment giving special consideration to that island nation.
The bill was strongly opposed by American retailers, who organized a major fight arguing that restrictions on textiles would increase the cost of clothing here. Duncan Dwelle, president of the American Fair Trade Council that was organized to fight the measure, pledged last night to continue the battle to sustain the expected veto.