133. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

1. Panama Treaties: Warren met with Bob Byrd this afternoon to discuss procedures for the Treaties. The Foreign Relations Committee will start considering the Resolution and its report tomorrow. The current plan is for the Committee to report out a “clean” resolution, leaving any recommendations as to amendments for the Committee’s report. Byrd indicated that the Neutrality Treaty would be reported first,2 which is also our preference, and that floor debate will start on February 6.

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When Warren began to caution against deletion of the Sea Level Canal provision (on the ground that its retention is in the national interest and its deletion would open up the Treaties), Byrd called Howard Baker off the floor and invited him to join the discussion. Baker said his interest in deleting the provision was purely tactical, i.e., he hoped it would pick up votes, particularly that of Senator Griffin. Baker said, however, that Griffin seemed to be turning against the Treaties, and that he was prepared to shelve efforts to delete the provision for the time being. Both Byrd and Baker recognize that some Senators are strongly in favor of the Sea Level Canal provision.3 Although Baker said he felt that Treaty support had eroded somewhat today, he hopes to produce 20 Republican votes.

Baker stressed the need to include the October 14 Joint Statement as an amendment. When Warren warned against diving into the Treaty and making textual changes, Baker suggested that it be added at the end as a separate article. This would be workable.

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 19, Evening Reports (State), 1/78. Secret. Carter initialed the top-right corner of the memorandum and wrote: “Cy.”
  2. Carter underlined “Neutrality Treaty” and “first” and placed a question mark in the left margin.
  3. Carter wrote: “It’s important, I believe, to hold this in the treaty” in the left margin.