The Senate gave overwhelming approval yesterday to a defense authorization bill that includes a provision ordering an early end to economic sanctions against Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
The bill bow goes to a conference with the House. Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass) predicted yesterday that the House would follow the Senate and approve an end to sanctions, thus raising the likelihood of a presidentail veto.
President Carter "most probably" will veto any bill ending the sanctions, a White House offficial said last night.
O'Neill said he would he surprised if the House did not vote to end the sanctions. But he said he doubted that the margin would be large enough to override a veto. That requires a two-thirds vote.
The key Senate vote on the issue Tuesday night - 52 to 41 in support of a ban on sanctions - also suggested an insufficient majority in that body to override a veto.
The House could tack a sanctions lifting provisions onto the same defense authorization bill, vote it separately or add it to another bill. Whatever the vehicle, a House vote on the issue is likely in the near future.
The defense bill approved 89 to 7 in the Senate authorizes military purchases and research totalling $40.1 billion. Among the programs in the bill is $670 million for the new MX supermissile that Carter recently decided should be put into full-scale development.
Other items in the bill are a $1.7 billion aircraft carrier, a $1.1 billion missile-carrying Trident submarine, a $408 million nuclear attack sub and money for continued production of a range of fighter aircraft and new ships.
There was no additional Senate debate yesterday on the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia issue. Tuesday night's showdown vote on a parliamentary maneuver to kill a proposed alternative to the early lifting of sanctions was the last consideration given the question. That 52-to-41 vote left intact a provision in the defense bill added by the Armed Services Committee.
In Zimbabwe-Rhodesia yesterday, Prime Minister Abel Muzorewa expressed his delight at the Senate vote.
In another development, the Nigerian ambassador to Washington, Olujimi Jolaoso, told a news conference here that his government had made no decision to link "the question of oil with whether or not the United States decides to lift the sanctions and recognizes Rhodesia."
Apparently responding to remarks in the Senate that Nigeria might cut off the 1 million barrels of oil it is selling daily to the United States, the ambassdor emphasized that no such decision has been made.
"I cannot, sitting here, say we will or will not cut off oil," he said.
Earlier, the Nigerian embassy here released a statement denouncing "the outcast puppet regime of Bishop Abel Muzorewa" and said any breach of U.N. sanctions against Zimbabwe-Rhodesia would seen as a "deliberate challenge to the black race" and would "be met with an appropriate response."
Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. (Ind.-Va.), a principal Senate supporter of lifting the sanctions, released a statement yesterday saying the Senate's latest vote should lead to a chance in U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.