Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko may have as many as 28 members of Congress looking over their shoulders when they get together next month for arms control talks in Geneva.
On the Senate side, Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and Minority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) have appointed a group of 10 official Senate "observers" -- five Democrats and five Republicans -- to be headed by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).
Dole and Byrd are ex-officio members of the group. Dole will attend the start of the talks and Byrd may also, aides said.
In the House, Majority Leader James C. Wright Jr. (D-Tex.) will lead a group of 16 House members -- eight Democrats and eight Republicans -- for a week of observing.
Despite the gridlock all week over farm policy and the nomination of Edwin Meese III as attorney general, the Senate was able to work out a matter of utmost concern to senators: assignments to major committees.
Around 11 p.m. Thursday, after most lawmakers had left for the night, the Senate swiftly passed resolutions assigning members of the 12 so-called "A" committees.
The appointments ended a debate that has raged for some weeks over how many major committees a senator should be able to sit on.
Senate reformers, in an effort to make that iconoclastic chamber work a little more efficiently, proposed limiting each senator to two major committees.
But nearly three dozen senators already were serving on three and most did not want to give up an assignment.
A compromise between the Democrats and Republicans cut the number to 14 -- nine Republicans and five Democrats -- and this was embodied in the committee assignments.
House Democrats, and even some Republicans, have been watching gleefully the somewhat uncomfortable position in which Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has found himself recently.
The tart-tongued leader of the "new right" Conservative Opportunity Society has had to fend off charges from one of his GOP colleagues, Rep. Guy V. Molinari (R-N.Y.), that he unfairly bumped the New Yorker as ranking GOP member of the House Public Works investigations and oversight subcommittee possibly in response to pressures from Delta Airlines. Delta is a major industry in Gingrich's district.
Molinari has led an effort to highlight what he believes has been a deterioration in air traffic safety, a charge that has made some airlines uncomfortable.
In the last Congress Molinari was made ranking subcommittee Republican after Gingrich -- who by seniority was entitled to it -- turned it down. In a letter, the Georgian wrote Molinari, "Let me assure you . . . that I will not 'bump' you from your new ranking position . . . . "
But Gingrich, saying the promise did not apply to the new 99th Congress, decided to reclaim his spot this year. Gingrich's aides said the Georgian wanted to make sure that his home state had adequate representation because Georgia had lost the subcommittee chairmanship with the defeat last November of Elliot H. Levitas (D-Ga.).
Rep. Robert S. Walker (R-Pa.), who has been one of the House Republican point men on a balanced federal budget, recently sent a letter to lawmakers urging them not to go along with President Reagan's proposed elimination of general revenue-sharing funds.