WASHINGTON — Legislators today generally hailed the U.S. destruction of an Iranian military facility and said they agreed with the White House that the shelling was "a measured, appropriate response" to Iranian missile attacks.
There were also predictions that the attack, carried out by four U.S. destroyers, would touch off a new congressional debate about invoking the War Powers Act to deal with President Reagan's policy in the Persian Gulf.
House Speaker Jim Wright, who was among congressional leaders called to the White House on Sunday night to be briefed on the planned U.S. action, said, "In general, we are supportive of what has been done.
"Most of us who were present believed it was necessary to make a demonstration that the Iranians cannot willfully and at their whim attack U.S. vessels without expecting measured retaliation," the Texas Democrat said.
"I support the action as a measured and restrained action," said Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "It was carefully calculated from a military and policy standpoint."
House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) called it "a measured, appropriate response" to Iran's attack with a Silkworm missile on a U.S.-flagged tanker Friday near Kuwait.
Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas called the U.S. action "an adequate response" to Friday's attack.
"The Ayatollah (Ruhollah Khomeini) asked for this and he got it," Dole said. "We've told the Iranians time and again that we weren't going to sit back and take their repeated attacks and provocations. This was a case of enough is enough."
Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) said, "Our response was measured and appropriate under the policy of escorting Kuwaiti ships, but it is another escalation of hostilities and will not be the last."
Sen. Brock Adams (D-Wash.) said: "We certainly had a legal and moral right to respond to the Iranian attack on a reflagged vessel. I agree that response should have been restrained."
Adams, one of the strongest advocates of invoking the War Powers Act, said Reagan's refusal to do so "creates the image of a President who believes he is above the law."
Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), who was campaigning in California for the Democratic presidential nomination, called the U.S. action "a measured response" but added, "This clear exchange of hostilities is added cause for invoking the War Powers Act."
Rep. William S. Broomfield (R-Mich.), ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs panel, said: "I think it was very appropriate. I was pleased it was such a measured response."
Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: "I strongly support President Reagan's action. The Administration acted very carefully. It was a very measured response."
Sen. J. James Exon (D-Neb.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said, "I believe that the response by the Administration in this instance was proper and necessary."