WASHINGTON -- Congress gave cautious support to the invasion of Grenada Tuesday but a Democrat seeking the White House accused President Reagan of being 'trigger-happy' and another Democrat decried Reagan's 'cowboy mentality.'
Following private briefings by Secretary of State George Shultz and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, lawmakers reported they had been told at least two Americans had been killed on the CAribbean island.
'We have a trigger-happy president, Ronald Reagan, who is recklessly landing us in two civil wars, one in Lebanon and one in Grenada,' Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., told reporters after a briefing.
Cranston said the war powers act was written to prevent a president from getting the nation into a war single-handedly and 'is obviously deficient. The war powers act needs strengthening.'
'This kind of cowboy mentality has very dangerous implications,' said Rep. Ronald Dellums, D-Calif., accusing of Reagan of 'using black Caribbean nations as a veil to the military ambitions of this administration.'
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said, 'Both the legitimacy of the Reagan administration's invasion of Grenada and the credibility of its explanations for that action are open to question.'
But Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., said he thinks Reagan 'acted correctly and responsibly.'
Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., said the president 'was absolutely correct in moving as quickly and expeditiously as he did to see to it that our young people, their lives ... were not jeopardized.'
'I think he would have been criticized if he had allowed another Iranian hostage situation take place,' D'Amato said.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Clement Zablocki, D-Wis., said he was 'deeply disappointed' Reagan 'failed to consult with the Congress before deploying U.S. troops into a combat situation abroad, as he is required to do under the War Powers Resolution.'
Rep. Julian Dixon, D-Calif., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he, too, was 'deeply concerned and troubled.'
For the most part, Republicans applauded the landing, calling it 'essential' and a warning to the Soviet Union that the United States will not permit 'further intervention' in the Western Hemisphere.
But many Democrats were skeptical, saying the landing by nearly 2,000 Army Rangers and Marines was 'an act of war.'
Rep. Michael Barnes, D-Md., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, called the invasion that and said it raises serious international legal questions.
He said U.S. troops 'are now deployed in combat situations or near-combat situations in three areas of the world: the Middle East, Central America, and now the Caribbean. In no case, in my judgment, have the Congress's questions about these deployments been adequately answered. In no case has Congress been adequately consulted.'
But Speaker Thomas O'Neill, D-Mass., refused to criticize the invasion.
'We weren't asked our advice. We were informed what was taking place,' O'Neill said of the White House meeting. 'I have no intent to get into any type of dialog critical of my government at this time.'
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles Percy, R-Ill., flown from Chicago in the pre-dawn darkness on an Air Force jet for the meeting, said, 'Our primary responsibility is to protect the 1,000 Americans' in Grenada.
'They were endangered. The island was in chaos. There were orders to shoot on sight violators of the 24-hour curfew. This action seemed essential,' Percy said.
Sen. John Tower, R-Texas, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, 'Given our vital interests in the island and the grave concern of friendly states in the area we had no practical alternative.'
Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., president pro tem of the Senate, said American lives 'were directly threatened by the ruling junta in Grenada, and the United Stats has a direct responsibility to protect them.'
But Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., called the action 'an act of war.' Moynihan told reporters the United States 'does not have the right' to invade Grenada to restore democracy there.
In the House, Rep. Ike Skeleton, D-Mo., said, 'We cannot allow hungry dicators to knock off our neighbors to the south one by one,' while Rep. Bill Alexander, D-Ark., called for 'a time of unity, not division, of review not criticism.'
Rep. Dennis Eckart, D-Ohio, said, 'It's just supply-side foreign policy. ... We supply the arms, we supply the munitions ... and now we supply the bodies.'
Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., 'applauded the president for moving so quickly.'
'The president was absolutely correct in moving as quickly and expeditiously as he did to see to it that our young people, their lives ... were not jeopardized... I think he would have been criticized if he had allowed another Iranian hostage situation take place.'
Republicans Manuel Lujan and Pete Domenici offered grudging partisan support Tuesday for President Reagan's decision to send U.S. Marines into Grenada.
Domenici said he had been briefed Tuesday afternoon by Secretary of State George Shulz, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 'Based on the information given me, I think the situation (in Grenada) is a difficult one, but necessary,' he said.