Warren Weaver Jr., 74, who retired in 1989 after 27 years as a Washington correspondent for the New York Times, died of respiratory arrest Feb. 19 at Georgetown University Hospital. He had diabetes.

Mr. Weaver, a resident of Washington, covered national politics, the Supreme Court and Congress and wrote the Times's Briefing column about the Washington scene. Known for his keen analysis of political and legal issues, he also was author of "Making Our Government Work" and "Both Your Houses: The Truth About Congress," and he contributed to other books about politics and Washington. He was a freelance writer after he retired. His articles appeared in The Hill newspaper.

Mr. Weaver was born in Madison, Wis., and raised in Scarsdale, N.Y. He was a graduate of Amherst College, and he received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a law degree from the Albany Law School.

He served in the Navy in the Mediterranean and Pacific during World War II.

He began his career with the Times in 1948 and later covered the state legislature in Albany, N.Y., where he was bureau chief. He was assigned to Washington in 1962.

Mr. Weaver wrote, directed and performed in the annual satirical reviews of the Gridiron Club in Washington, where he was twice music chairman. He was a member of the Washington and National Press clubs.

His marriage to Barbara Woodall ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 21 years, Marianne Means of Washington; four daughters from his first marriage, Carolyn Weaver Fenn of Abilene, Kan., Sally Weaver Lee of Narberth, Pa., Melissa Weaver Dunning of Berryville, Va., and Anne Weaver Buck of Underhill Center, Vt.; a sister; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.