Senate Foreign Relations committee Chairman John J. Sparkman yesterday invited Armed Services Committee members to join his committee in questioning Paul C. Warnke. President Carter's nominee to head the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
Sparkman's move appeared to be an attempt to dissuade the Armed Services Committee from inviting Warnke to a hearing of its own even though Foreign Relations is the only committee with power to approve or disapprove the nomination.
Warnke appears to have no strong opponent in the Foreign Relations Committee, but at least three members of Armed Services, Sens. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash), Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) and Sam nunn (D-Ga.) have raised serious questions about past Warnke statments.
Several Armed Services Committee staffers said they thought the commit - [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES] eign Relations hearings to make a despite the Sparkan invitation.
Chairman John C. Stennis (D-Miss.) said "the door is still open" for his committee to invite Warnke to testify, but hat he would wait until after Foreign Relations hearings to make a decision.
An informal poll of the Foreign Relations Committee showed strong support for Warnke. Eight of the 15 members appeared solid yes votes while three others were strongly leaning toward backing Warnke.
Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.) and Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (Tenn.) both said they had heard concerns about the nomination from other senators, and both said they had not made up their minds.
Senators inclined to support Warnke rallied around the nomination and criticized opponents for circulating and anonymous memorandum making a case against Warnke.
Democratic Sens. George McGovern (S.D.), Gary Hart (Colo.), Frank Church (Idaho) and John Culver (Iowa) issued statements of support. Hart said: "It seems to me that if you want a person to head an agency which has responsibility for arms control and disarmament, you find an individual with a commitment to arms control and disarmament . . ."
At the White House, press secretary Jody Powell said the President "is committed to this appointment" and that the opposition to Warnke has a considerably different basis from that which forced Theodore C. Sorensen, Carter's nominee for CIA director, to withdraw.
The opposition to Warnke primarily comes from senators who believe he does not place sufficient importance on keeping a nuclear balance with the Soviet Union.
Even among Warnke supporters yesterday, there was some grumbling that the White House had once again not consulted with key senators in advance of making a nomination public.