House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (Mass.) yesterday authorized creation of a special committee to review President Carter's complaint that he is conducting foreign policy under "very tight constraints" imposed by Congress.
O'Neill designated House International Relations Committee Chairman Clement J. Zablocki (D-Wis.) to name an ad hoc committee to review the pattern of legislative restraints on presidential action abroad initiated by Congress in the closing stages of the Indochina war. The White House has called for the review in the wake of the spreading use of Soviet-Cuban power in Africa.
Zablocki, usually responsive to administration requests, was asked to report back "in several weeks."
In the Senate, however, aides to Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said there is no change in his position that he sees no evidence that Congress has "tied the president's hands" in any way that justifies rectification.
White House determination to reexamine what it regards as overstringent curbs on executive powe also was evident in a "clarifying" statement issued in New York yesterday by U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the administration's "point man" on Africa policy.
Young, in a television interview Sunday, also said "I don't agree that the president's hands are tied." he expressly disagreed that there is any need to review 1975 legislation sponsored by Sen. Dick Clark (D-Iowa) that cut off covert American aid to anti-Marxist factions in Angola's civil war, and bars further military involvement in Angola, where there are still about 20,000 Cuban troops without action by Congress. Rebel troops involved in the recent fighting in Zaire crossed over from Angola, where they were allegedly trained by Cubans, and were armed with Soviet weapons.
After telephone conversations yesterday morning with White House and State Department officials, Young issued what aides called "a clarifying statement":
"I share the president's concern about the many legislative restrictions on foreign assistance. For instance, there are a number of laws restricting aid to specified countries, including Mozambique, Angola, Laos and Vietnam. Other statutes place various conditions on foreign assistance.
"I have no problem at all with the review of all these restraints, but on the question of our African policy, as I said yesterday. 'There's enough support in this country and in Congress for us to do openly anything we want to do in Africa.
What stimulated the concern in the White House, and the desire to try to shake loose from limitations on presidential actions abroad, was far less the restrictions cited by Young yesterday than it was the Clark amendment. The State Department on Saturday issued a list of 30 "restrictions on presidential authority to provide assistance to foreign nations and conduct foreign operations," but it is the restrictions on checkmating the Soviet-Cuban military actions that preoccupy the White House.
The issue has been precipitated by the repeated voiced concern of Carter and national security adviser Zbigniew Brzeninski about the spread of Soviet-armed Cuban troops in Africa. Brzeninski is in China now to try to intensify parallel American-Chinese policy in offsetting Soviet power in Africa and elsewhere.
According to the New China News Agency, in Peking last night at a farwell banquet on his visit, Brzezinksi was quoted as expressed publicly an unusually blunt conjunction of U.S.-Chinese interests in Africa.
"Neither of us dispatches international marauders who masquerade as nonaligned to advance big power ambitions in Africa," Brzezinksi said. "Neither of us seeks to enforce the political obedience of our neighbors through military force."
Last Friday Preisdent Carter said that Cuba claims "to be a nonaligned country," is is "the most heavily dependent and subservient country to the Soviet Union outside the eastern (European) bloc . . ." Carter said the Soviet Union is "very eager to send Cuban troops" into Africa, while he has to operate under "very tight constraints" imposed by Congress.