WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate decided Saturday to vote Tuesday on a leadership proposal that would require the Reagan Administration to supply the Senate with detailed data on the impact on the NATO alliance of the impending new treaty to eliminate short- and medium-range missiles.
Senate majority leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), sponsor of the plan, called for close Senate scrutiny of any treaty growing out of the "agreement in principle" between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze to conclude a treaty excluding the missiles worldwide.
"I will wish to assure myself that any arms control treaty preserves deterrence in Europe and contributes to the unity and effectiveness of the (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance," Byrd told his fellow senators at a rare Saturday session. The Senate, he said, "may wish to attach reservations or understandings concerning modernization requirements for other (weapons) systems."
Offered as Amendment
Byrd offered the proposal as an amendment to the $302-billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 1988 that was the pending business at the session, which Byrd had called to expedite action on the measure.
Byrd's proposal drew support from Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said the Senate "will be looking closely at what the post-treaty environment is going to look like," and from Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.), one of a group of Republican conservatives who have made clear their determination to review closely any new arms limitation agreement reached with Moscow.
The amendment is likely to become one of a growing number that the Senate is in the process of adding to the bill--some strongly opposed by President Reagan.
One amendment, which Reagan has said will draw a veto if it is in the bill when it reaches him, would empower Congress to end U.S. convoys of Kuwaiti tankers now flying the U.S. flag in the Persian Gulf and would require withdrawal of their U.S. Navy escorts within 90 days unless both houses voted to continue the convoys. That amendment, also sponsored by Byrd, is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday despite warnings that it might generate a GOP filibuster.
The Persian Gulf amendment would require the President to comply with a principle similar to that embodied in the War Powers Resolution of 1974, which directs him to notify Congress within 48 hours if he sends troops equipped for combat into a foreign country. If they are sent into situations where fighting is imminent, the resolution requires that they be withdrawn within 60 to 90 days unless Congress declares war or specifically authorizes the deployment.
Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.), in delivering the Democratic response to the President's weekly Saturday radio broadcast, urged the War Powers Resolution be applied to what he called Reagan's "flawed policy" in the Persian Gulf.
"The President may not like Congress and he may not like the War Powers Act, but it is the law of the land, and the President has no more right to violate the law than any other citizen," Bumpers said.
"The War Powers Act was designed to make certain the President does not do precisely what he is now doing--conducting a foreign policy which could lead the U.S. into an accidental war without consulting with the legislative branch of government, which is charged in the Constitution with the responsibility of raising the money for a war."