With normally opposed Republicans biting their tongues, the House last night passed a foreign aid bill, with few of the customary cross fires that have marked that issue in the past.
The vote was 222 to 184 on a bill that had been favored by both the Reagan administration and the House Democratic leadership.
The Republicans mustered 97 votes for the bill, three short of the number that had been thought necessary to pass it. Eighty-six Republicans voted against it.
GOP members withheld criticism on several controversial parts of the $5.7 billion authorization bill for foreign aid in this fiscal year.
They explained their low-key approach as an effort to bring about harmony for passage of the bill, which the administration badly wants.
"It's one of those rare moments," observed Rep. Edward J. Derwinski (R-Ill.), a frequent foreign aid critic who agreed to withhold one controversial amendment in the interest of harmony.
"The feeling of the leadership was to keep the atmosphere as harmonious as possible so as not to jeopardize final passage," he said.
Republican support for foreign aid has been so shaky in recent years that no bills have passed since 1979. Instead, foreign aid has been approved in continuing resolutions since that year.
This year the White House, eager to win more military assistance for several friendly countries, turned on a campaign for approval that seemed to be paying off.
Derwinski announced that he would not introduce an amendment to lift restrictions on military aid to Angola, even though the State Department has favored opening up aid channels to that country.
Republicans did not object when an amendment was passed making it easier for Congress to prevent aid to Pakistan and other countries if they are found preparing to develop nuclear weapons. The State Department had strongly objected to the amendment, arguing that it would tie the president's hands in foreign policy.
Republicans made a modest but unsuccessful attempt to block an amendment designed to warn some foreign countries, specifically Taiwan, to stop intimidating their nationals who live in this country.
It was prompted by the death in Taipei last July of Chen Wen-Cheng, a Taiwanese professor at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He had undergone 12 hours of interrogation by government security agents about his political activities in the United States.
Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) said an investigation revealed a pattern of intimidation by Taiwanese agents in this country, and he proposed an amendment forbidding U.S. arms sales to countries if the president finds they have engaged in "systematic intimidation" of their citizens living in this country.
Republicans opposed it as unnecessary, claiming that local law enforcement officials and the FBI can control such cases of intimidation, but the amendment passed on a voice vote.
The Democratic majority also preserved a section of the bill making the Peace Corps an independent agency. Some Republicans had attempted to keep the Peace Corps as part of the Action agency.
The dominant note of harmony was struck early in the afternoon when Rep. William S. Broomfield (R-Mich.), ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, called the legislation "vital to our national security" and necessary to "counter subversion by the Soviet Union."
He also said that foreign aid money returned to the United States in the form of purchases creates jobs for American workers.
Maryland Democratic Reps. Michael D. Barnes, Steny Hoyer, Clarence D. Long, Barbara A. Mikulski, Parren J. Mitchell and Republican Marjorie S. Holt voted for the measure. Democrats Beverly B. Byron and Roy Dyson voted against.
In the Virginia delegation, Republicans Thomas J. Bliley Jr., M. Caldwell Butler and Frank R. Wolf voted for the bill. Voting against were Democrat Dan Daniel and Republicans Robert W. Daniel Jr., J. Kenneth Robinson, Paul S. Trible Jr., William C. Wampler and G. William Whitehurst.