The House gave final congressional approval yesterday to legislation blocking President Reagan's proposed arms sale to Jordan through March 1 unless direct peace talks between Israel and Jordan begin before then.
Reagan, who notified Congress less than a month ago that he intended to sell Jordan up to $1.9 billion worth of fighter aircraft, missiles and other advanced weaponry, has indicated he will reluctantly sign the legislation.
The bill was adopted in the House by voice vote and with no debate, a sign of the overwhelming congressional opposition to the proposed sale, lawmakers said. The Senate adopted an identical measure 97 to 1 last month, bringing strong criticism from Jordan's King Hussein, who likened the four-month delay to "blackmail."
Reagan had been forced by Senate Republican leaders to accept the delay to avert an outright rejection of the arms deal. Opponents had enough votes in each chamber to defeat the sale, which would have embarrassed Reagan and Hussein.
By law, Congress had 30 days to reject the proposed sale; otherwise, approval would have been automatic. The 30-day period was to expire Nov. 21.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.) yesterday described the legislation adopted by the House as "a compromise" that temporarily shelved the arms sale to "give the peace process a chance."
He said the sale could go forward at any time if there were substantive negotiations and not just "chit-chat" between Israel and Jordan.
Opponents of the arms sale said that if direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan do not begin before March 1, Congress can veto the sale.