Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said yesterday there is "no chance" that the Panama Canal treaties will come up for Senate consideration before January.
The Senate, he said, is not ready to consider the treaties because it has to deal with energy legislation before it adjourns this fall, and neither senators nor the public has had enough time to study the issue.
He also indicated that he feels the canal issue is too emotionally charged. "Anyone who thinks I will bring it up before January is living in a dream world," Byrd told a press conference. "Any decision should not be based on jingoistic, or knee-jerk reactions. I'm not going to be hurried with that kind of emotional pressure."
Meanwhile Sen. Clifford Case of New Jersey, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he might support the treaties if the United States can permanently retain defense rights to the waterway.
Case made his remarks at an American Legion gathering in New Jersey. Another influential Republican, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, said he believes he will vote against the treaties.
The two treaties, signed last week by President Carter, call for turning the canal over to Panamanian control by the year 2000.