WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- The U.S. Senate approved a bill to pressure China into allowing its currency rise on Tuesday, ignoring warnings from Beijing that such legislation could ignite a trade war.

The legislation would permit the U.S. to put duties on goods from countries that intentionally undervalue their currencies to boost their exports. According to a Reuters report, some U.S. policymakers believe that China undervalues the yuan by as much as 40%, giving exports an advantage in global markets.

Whether the bill will pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is uncertain. House Speaker John Boehner has expressed hesitation in getting involved in other countries' currency policies.

Also on Tuesday, a Senate panel moved forward on trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The pacts, which remove certain tariffs, are expected to increase U.S. exports by $13 billiion a year, according to a separate Reuters report.

The agreements are slated to pass the complete Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

-- Written by Melinda Peer in New York.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.