Voting roughly along party lines, members of a House committee, refused yesterday to subpoena Carter administration officials and maritime industry leaders to testify about the administration's cargo-preference bill.
Republicans charge that President Carter's support of the measure to guarantee American-flag tankers a share of the oil import trade is a political payoff to maritime interests, which supported President Carter financially during his presidential campaign.
The Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee rejected by a vote of 17 to 13 a motion by Rep. Paul N. McCloskey (R-Calif.) to subpoena four administration officials and four leaders of the industry and maritime unions.
Democratic Rep. Don Bunker of Washington, William J. Hughes of New Jersey, John P. Breaux of Louisiana and David E. Bonior of Michigan joined Republicans on the panel in voting for the motion. The only Republican voting against it was Rep. Don Young of Alaska.
The administration officials McCloskey sought to subpoena are Robert S. Strauss, special trade representative; W. Michael Blumenthal, Secretary of the Treasury; Paul Riley, assistant secretary of defense; and Julius L. Katz, assistant secretary of state.
Republicans wanted testimony from most of those officials because they or their departments had expressed opposition to the cargo-preference proposal before the President announced his support of it.
Also named in the motion were Jesse Calhoun of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association; Paul Hall, president of the Seafarers International Union; Shannon Wall, president of the National Maritime Union; and James Barker , president of Moore McCormack Lines and of the National Maritime Council.
McCloskey noted that the former chairman of the House committee, Rep. Edward A. Garmatz (D-Md.) was indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore Monday on charges of taking bribes from Barker and from United States Lines Inc. to support legislation they favored.
"A constant criticism of this committee is that we are in the lap of the maritime industry," McCloskey said. "If we fail even to call the president of the Maritime Council, we are subject to a charge of not doing our jobs."
Rep. Robert L. Leggett (D-Calif.) questioned whether Barker would have any evidence to present that would be relevant to the cargo-preference bill, and committee Chairman John Murphy (D-N.Y.) said the panel was "not going to interfere with the rights of any former member or any member under the Constitution."
The administration's bill would guarantee that the share of oil imports carried by U.S. ships would go from the current 3.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent over five years.
McCloskey and Senate Republican leader Howard Baker of Tennessee said Monday that Republicans would continue efforts to have administration officials subpoenaed.
McCloskey also said he would push for an alternative to require that oil shipped to refineries in the Virgin islands be transported by U.S.-flag vessels.
Baker, Republican National Chairman Bill Brock and House Republican Leader John Rhodes of Arizona said Monday that guaranteeing American-flag tankers a larger share of the imported fuel market could cost consumers $800 million a year by 1985.