Common sense, which has frequently been missing in the confrontational atmosphere between the White House and Congress, has finally prevailed in the long struggle over several key arms-control issues.
The compromise deal, which was negotiated by senior Administration officials and members of a House-Senate conference committee on the defense budget, is only a temporary fix. The same issues may have to be fought out again next year. But the agreement preserves President Reagan's flexibility in dealing with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev at next month's summit without requiring key members of Congress to abandon their own arms-control goals.
A near-crisis had arisen over the diametrically opposed views of the President and influential Democrats on several important arms-control issues.
The President, anxious to move forward with his Strategic Defense Initiative or SDI program while he is still in office, has favored a broad reading of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, which imposed restraints on development and deployment of missile defense systems. At the urging of Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and other important members of the Armed Services Committees, both houses of Congress approved amendments aimed at preventing the Administration from carrying out tests that might violate the traditional, more narrow interpretation of the ABM treaty's restraints. The White House threatened a veto if this language remained in the defense bill.