Supporters of Paul C. Warnke's nomination to head the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and be the chief strategic arms negotiator won a victory yesterday when the Senate Armed Services Committee ended its hearings after deciding not to take a vote or write a reporter.
Chairman John C. Stennis (D-Miss.) said the decision was taken in the interests of "protecting our own jurisdiction as well as respecting the jurisdiction of others."
The Foreign Relations Committee had jurisdiction over the nomination, and has approved it, but Armed Services took the unusual step of holding its own hearings because of some members' stron opposition to Warnke.
Stennis and Sen. Thomas. J. McIntyre, D-N.H. led the effort to prevent a vote from being taken. About two-thirds of the committee members oppose Warnke.
McIntyre quoted former Armed Services Committee Chairman Richard B. Russell's words in 1969 when Russell and Stennis headed off a similar move by committee members to encroach on the jurisdiction of the Foreign Relations Committee. It would be improper for the committee to report to the Senate or position itself in any formal way," Russell said, speaking then of the nuclear nonproliferation treay.
Republicans John Tower (Tex.) Strom Thurmond (S.C.), and William L. Scott (Va.) pushed for a vote on Warnke, but then agreed to what they labeled a compromise in which the routine printing of the committee's hearings will be accelerated so that the transcript will be available to all senators by noon Thursday, when the full Senate is to take up the nomination.
Warnke' supporters predict there will be fewer than 30 votes against him, but several opponents have promised a lengthy floor debate and there is a possibility of a filibuster.
It also appeared possible that Warnke's foes will let him be confirmed quickly as director of ACDA, and fight only his nomination to lead strategic arms negotiations with the Russians.
Yesterday's decision not to vote was made to closed session after the committee heard Adm. Thomas Moores, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Under Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze testify against Warnke.
They were the two witnesses selected by anti-Warnke forces to debate two Warnke supporters. However, the White House decided not to participate, so the two appeared alone.
Moorer said he didn't object to having Warnke head ACDA but strongly opposed him as chief negotiator, in large part because of his past opposition to many U.S. strategic weapons systems.
Nitze told the committee, as he told the Foreign Relations Committee during its hearings almost two weeks ago, that he opposes Warnke for both posts.
However, Nitze disagreed with three senators who suggested to him that Warnke's past opposition to weapons would render him a weak negotiator.
Nitze, who negotiated with the Soviets for five years, said Moscow expects any American negotiator to be actig at the instruction of his government.
Nitze said Warnke 'mystifies' and "confuses" him becausehe had apparently changed many of his positions since being nominated by President Carter Feb. 4. Asked by Warnke supporter McIntyre whether he meant to impugn Warnke's character, Nitze replied: "If you force me to, I do."
By his past statements on weapons systems, "Warnke has already devalued his chips in this life-and-death poker game before he has been dealt the first hand," Moorer said, and the Soviets would perceive him to be "a patsy."