June 19th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
9 years ago

Congress overwhelmingly approves Iran resolutions

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate overwhelmingly approved resolutions Friday that support "all Iranians who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law."

The Senate approved the measure by unanimous consent, while in the House the resolution was approved by 405 lawmakers, with one congressman - Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas - voting against it. Two other lawmakers, Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Indiana, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, voted "present."

The Senate also approved a resolution sponsored by Sens. Ted Kaufman, D-Delaware, and Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, supporting freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Iran.

In a statement on his Web site, Paul said he voted against the House measure because he is "always very cautious about 'condemning' the actions of governments overseas."

"I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little," said Paul, who attracted attention last year during his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination. "And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran."

The resolution, which also "condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators," was sponsored in the House by Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Howard Berman, a California Democrat, and Republicans Mike Pence and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor.

Speaking shortly after the resolution passed, Pence called it a message from the American people to the Iranian people.

"As Americans have done throughout our history, this Congress today, on behalf of the American people, has spoken a word of heartfelt support to all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law," he said.

He urged U.S. senators to support the "identical" resolution that was introduced Friday by Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut.

"The time has come for the United States Congress to speak out unequivocally in support of the fundamental right of the Iranian people to determine their future for themselves in freedom," McCain and Lieberman said in a joint statement.

"With this resolution, the Senate joined with our colleagues in the House of Representatives to affirm our shared commitment to the universal values of democracy, human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law, and to condemn the unacceptable violence against the peaceful demonstrators taking place in Iran."

Both Pence and McCain have been outspoken in their criticism of President Barack Obama's response to this week's massive rallies in Iran against the results of last week's presidential election.

The U.S. government is in a precarious position regarding how to respond to the situation.

Supporters of Iranian opposition leaders - including Mir Hossein Moussavi, who finished second to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the vote - have taken to the streets this week calling for a new election after the results of last Friday's vote showed an overwhelming victory for incumbent hardline president.

The rallies have also denounced the Iranian government's crackdown on the protests, which killed at least eight people.

Obama has said he is "deeply troubled" by the violent protests but he has avoided siding with Ahmadinejad's opponents, telling reporters that "It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be."

"It's not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections," Obama said this week.

On Thursday, Cantor joined the critics of the White House's response to Iran's disputed election, saying the United States has a "moral responsibility" to condemn attacks on protesters.

"The administration's position that what's going on in Iran is a 'vigorous debate' is absurd," he said. "People are being brutalized and murdered by the regime in Tehran. We have no idea exactly how many have died or have been seriously injured, since the regime has restricted journalists. In no way do these actions constitute a 'vigorous debate.'"

The congressman from Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House, added that "America has a moral responsibility to stand up for these brave people, to defend human rights, and to condemn the violence and abuses by the regime in Tehran."

Pence has called on the United States "to take a half-step back from this administration's olive branch and the apology approach to enemies and countries that have been hostile to the United States of America and our allies, particularly with the road to Iran."

But Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Washington would be making an "enormous mistake" by taking sides in the Iranian protests.

"There is no need for the United States of America to step into the middle of it and make this about America," Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, told CNN's "The Situation Room."

"It is an Iranian moment, spurred on by Iranians, thoroughly supported by Iranians to the degree that the supreme ayatollah has now backed off his own support for the elections (and) called for an investigation," he said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended the administration's approach this week, telling reporters that Obama "believes that he's struck the right tone."

"I know some people agree with what Sen. McCain said. Some people agree with what other Republicans have said that's very much like the president's position," Gibbs said Thursday. "The president strongly believes that we should - and have - spoken out to ensure the demonstrators have the universal right and principle to demonstrate without fear of harm. But at the same time, we have to respect their sovereignty."

Moorhead Kennedy, a former diplomat who was among the hostages held in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days from November 1979 until January 1981, said he supports the Obama administration's position.

"I think if I had any conclusion to draw, we would have been much better off not interfering in Iran now," he told CNN's "American Morning."

Because the United States backed a 1953 coup that put Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in charge, and supported him until the 1979 revolution that created today's Islamic republic, Kennedy said, "There are a great many resentments there."

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Deirdre Walsh, Peter Hamby and Dan Lothian contributed to this report.

Filed under: Iran
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. Matt

    So in spite of all the EXPERT'S advice to the contrary, they end up passing something just so they can pat themselves on the back. This is ridiculous. How about focusing on OUR COUNTRY! In case you didn't get the memo, it's in SHAMBLES.

    June 19, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. Party Crasher

    Does the resolution send any of our members from the Congress over to Iran to march with the Protesters? If it does not the resolution is not worth the paper that it is written on.

    June 19, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Proud of American

    Hey how about a resolution for China and Russia while your at it! Oh, I forgot one owns our debt and the other is our supposed ally, so their absolved from abuses of basic human rights and infringements on freedom of speech. Completely hypocritical and a double standard!

    June 19, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Doreen J.

    Can the US ever just mind its own business?

    June 19, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. WhoCares?

    Anyone else see the difference in replies between the liberals and conservatives on here?

    Liberals speaking about how it will affect the Iranian people and conservatives more interested in using their suffering to take childish shots at President Obama.

    Could conservatives actually become more childish?

    June 19, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Mira NYC

    what is next ? bomb bomb iran ? let the president handle this crises.
    what a disgrace – and all dems went for it, ahhhhhhhh.

    June 19, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Mick

    So when do the grand standing Repiglicans plan to schedule a vote to condemn the on going violence in Darfur? Oh right, the people being oppressed there are black. Sorry, I forgot.

    When do the grand standing Repiglicans plan to schedule a vote condemning the stolen elections and political violence in Egypt. Oh right, Egypt buys billions of dollars of weapons from the Repiglican military industrial corporate masters so no condemnation vote.

    When do the flag waving Repiglicans plan to schedule a vote to condemn the brutal political repression and repression against women in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates? Oh, that's right, those countries have huge oil reserves the US is exploiting so their Repiglican corporate masters at Big Oil won't allow it.

    This is another sad grand standing, meaningless event by Repiglican Hypocrite Losers. Enjoy your continuing political irrelevance Repiglicans.

    June 19, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Kate in SW Fla

    Face it, the neocons do not want us to try and negotiate with Iran. They actually want to derail any kinds of talks well before they could start. This is a nice punch in the face to the diplomatic efforts of our elected President. It is really hopeless. Even in the minority, they are hell bent on destroying us. And there are the idiot dems followong right along behind, blatantly spitting on the foreign policy of the administration.
    They ALL deserve to be voted out, all 434 of them, except for Ron Paul. I doubt that you will see the Senate follow suit – there are actually some grown ups over there.

    June 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Sam Sixpack

    I'm glad that's all taken care of, now we can all go back to sleep. We still need resolutions condemning global warming, and one condemning poverty, and hunger, and …

    If Iran doesn't let journalists wander around, how are we going to convince the sheeple that the propaganda we feed them is news?

    June 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Yes!!! All you "representatives" are idiots!!!!

    OMG... Who do these arrogant bastards think they are. They can't even run this country and now their trying to tell Iran how to run theirs.. Have we forgotten Iraq already? OUR politicians haven't done very well with Iraq and now their starting on Iran.... No wonder those people hate us... Why must our politicians think they can run the world when they can't even run this country correctly?

    June 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. audacity of a dope

    Did Obama vote....I see 2 people voted present

    June 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Chipster

    Why wouldn't Ron Paul support this? Because he thinks before he acts and he recognizes that, although we all want democracy worldwide, this U.S. government has no authority to interfere. Bless him, Ron Paul showed leadership, not foolish campaign gestures.

    June 19, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Brian - Trinidad

    Just like we have in the free world,criminal empires operating unchecked,unlimited kiddie porn available on the internet,no health care,no jobs,and members of congress getting caught in sex scandals daily.Boy,I bet those Iranians demonstrating really want all this stuff in their country.

    June 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Leah

    @ John In CA, @ Carlos and all of you losers

    Obama knows that by fueling and supporting the postesters in Iran is pretty much handing an ammunition to Amadejad to cracks their skulls.
    The supreme leader spoke this morning blaming USA for meddling in their affairs and now those lunatics in the house is making that blame to become a reality.

    McCain said days ago that he doesn't have enough time to read healthcare bills. McCain doesn't have enough time to do the job that he was hired to do, working for Americans people
    and yet he has plenty of time, working on Iran resolution bill.

    What a shame!

    June 19, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Alberta

    I rather see the house pass a bill that support universal health care than one that is focused on issues that of no concern of theirs. I hope for the best of the people of Iran but at least their government did not comment on the 2000 election which was contest by most Americans.

    June 19, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Edna

    Those of you who continue to hate the President of the United States are pathetic. He is smarter than you will ever hope to be and makes those in Congress look like imbeciles. Republicans can forget the next few years in office. Even Pat Buchanan, whom I can not stand, does not agree with them. We need to stop meddling in other countries' affairs and take care of our own business. This is exactly why President Barack Obama is in office now for the next eight years and the Republicans will be on the outside looking in for many years to come. NO ONE, but the 25% who admit to being Republican, listen to or believe anything that Republicans have to say. Grow up and help the country become viable again.

    June 19, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Heather

    The best response to the situation is no response. Reasons:

    1. The US is already being accused of meddling in affairs, and we need not provide them with more stones to throw.

    2. We should not be acknowledging theocratic tyranny as a legitimate form of government.

    June 19, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. Proud of American

    Hey Jon in CA, Obama is the President now, he can't vote on legislation or resolutions passed by the congress he either approves or disapproves. You need to take a civics lesson cuz you sound REAL stupid.

    June 19, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Refiblicans can't even recognize their own stupidity

    Eric Cantor can't get anything done for this country. So, instead, he's submitting ammendments that are already the "given". We've always felt for those whose rights to freedom, human rights, and civil liberties are violated. Only...in this case....either candidate in the race there in Iran....win or lose....would make NO change in Iran's policy towards the United States. This is because the Ayatollah is acting President....while the winner of this election only initiates the Ayatollah's policies. Isn't it stupid to try and manipulate an adversarial powers election results when either result won't change the policy of that country ????

    June 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Bev - NYC

    Good going tough guys, put the protestors in more danger from their trigger happy military and police. Nice to be brave from the safety of your couch in the USA. Obama made one statement and the Ayatollah balmed the US for meddling. We can't get finish an election for a Senator in Minnesota but our elected official can pretend to throw stones at others, see the hypocracy? Remember Florida 2000? The world knows that the Iranian election was rigged, wether it's against Islamic law as the Atayollah maintains. Counting 40 million ballots, 2 hours, come one not even a five year old believes that. Unfortunately when Sanction begin only the people of Iran will suffer.

    June 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Independent_Voter

    All this resolution does is prove that Republicans hate Iranians and support a brutal dictator. Do they realize this resolution will lead to many dead Iranians who are just fighting for their freedom? The blood will be on YOUR hands GOP! Shame!

    June 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Frozone

    Too bad these clowns don't show the same support for Americans without healthcare.

    June 19, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. ge ontario

    funny when so many americans are fighting for there own freedoms the politicans are more interested in irannian freedom macian and company the masters of rigid elections hope is civil war in iran if it don,t workout they can always go back to bomb -bomb- bomb- iran

    June 19, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Trang

    What's the point? What's the resolution mean? Are we going to die and fight for them? Or it's just words that make you feel good about yourself? What if the result comes out the way you don't want? What will you do then? Are you commit us to anything?

    Obama was doing it right and Congress mess it up.

    June 19, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. Matt

    Ridiculous you guys! This is one of the first pieces of legislation that is truly as bipartisan as they come, and all you comment junkies can do is argue along party lines. I'm proud of ALL the representatives who helped vote this through, Republican or Democrat. Save the complaints where complaints are due, otherwise you look like whiners.

    June 19, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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