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. sonny

    who is that one guy voted against? just curious...

    June 19, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Even though I supported Ron Paul for president, I am grateful other American citizens had the good sense to put Obama in office.

    What if the War Mongering McCain had won the election? Would we be knee deep in Iran's business now?

    Will we ever learn to mind our own business. Isn't it bad enough that we are broke and stuck in two wars because we can't mind our own business.

    Congress, please concentrate on helping the citizens of your own country.

    June 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Gordon Shumway

    The President is indeed in a quandary! How does one look and act like a great leader when one is bent over trying to figure out which &ss to kiss?

    June 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. briana will

    So what does this do? Does this bring freedom? This from the same bomb bomb iran crowd.

    What has been accomplished from an empty paper.

    June 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Joseph, Los Angeles

    This is a huge mistake. Why are we getting involved in another countries politics? This will shut the door and take away any leverage we have in speaking with the leaders of Iran. Our representatives don't seem to think before they open their mouths.

    June 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. I Love America

    Why does the Republican Taliban hate America?

    June 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Anthony

    Hey Mike

    Spoken like a true white guy...

    June 19, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Mike in Fairfax

    Good grief people! You go on attacking the Republicans here and yet only one person didn't vote for this thing! Many of you are starting to sound awfully repetetive and your comments are becoming more and more meaningless. (BTW..I'm not a Republican) This is about supporting oppressed people in their search for freedom. From reading your comments in the past year, I can see that many of you could care less about freedom, but there are still those of us that do. I agree with the first comment made by Jon, the President has basically, once again, voted "Present". Can I take back my vote? No, not yet, but that chance will come.

    June 19, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. matt

    Democrates have the white house so everything goes wrong then blame the republicans thats how it goes and then when the liberals and dems let a fart they will blame Canada or Israel

    June 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. DL

    Why don't you stop focusing on everybody else for once and fix the mess that our country has become instead? With the changes that need to be made, and the problems we are facing here, how long did this take?? I wish for once our government would stop worrying about everybody else and take care of our own for once.

    June 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Shelia

    I would like you to ask each house and each senate member, when are you going to stop playing polictics with our lives. That is very reckles of senator mccain come out like he did. That to me definitely wasn't patriot of him. We need to stop showing such ignorance. We are in a very historic time in history and know matter how they try to clean up now, the young will change every thing. If there is a war since they seem to not believe they are putting flam on the fire. If a war btreak out they should take a vow to send his children and grandchildren to war. Ask no more than what you are willing to give.

    I sit and watch you debate if I'm intitle to have repectable health care. I sit on the side lines and watch my body deca because I've got to wait for a certain age.here in TX or claim some welfare plan that will limit me to even have money. I don't know if people believe we are real people. Some of us have never known what insurance is, never mind have insurance Give up your healh care!!!

    June 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Dawn In Pa

    Wow, great going US. sticking our huge oboxious nose where it don't belong...

    I totally agree with Sam Sixpacks, we have poverty here in the United States, we have hungry children here in the United States, so where is the Government to help us...

    I do not like when people repressed free speech... You take it the way you want....

    June 19, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Shrum of Northern Virginia

    As a supporter of Ron Paul, I would like to take this chance to say how glad I am that we elected an intelligent man to the presidency instead of a War Mongerer who would have us knee-deep in a third war in the middle east.

    Isn't it enough that the war mongerers have driven this great country into a recession and bankrupted many of our businesses and stuck us with two never ending wars.


    June 19, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. citizenjane

    Great job guys. That should just about catch the Supreme Leaders attention, now shouldn't it? What a bunch of meddling fools.

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

    The problem is that any pronouncement made by the US will help Ahmadinejad and Khamenei in their efforts to dismiss the protesters as "puppets of the Americans and Israelis." This is why President Obama hasn't made a public statement: the little good that it would do would be offset by the consequences.

    It's certainly not a matter of being a "deer in the headlights" as one person commented. It is the smart thing to do, right now, given the present tensions. That said, I expect Obama to deliver a clear, compelling-yet-measured speech on the matter soon, spelling out why we're concerned, reasons for our concern and our belief that the Iranian people will ultimately be successful in making their government the true voice of the people.

    June 19, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. @Jon in CA who says:

    Too bad Obama isn't a REAL leader.
    Taking "California Dreaming" to a new level . . .?

    June 19, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Big red shoes

    And who cares about this. President Obama is doing the right thing keeping his mouth shut. SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE................

    June 19, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. Judy

    We need to stay out Iran's business. We voted OBAMA in under a mandate of change – Americans don't want to be involved in other countries' internal affairs, at least I don't & that is why we voted for OBAMA int he first place. Don't those bozos get it yet?

    June 19, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Len

    Hey Shecky,

    You have no clue!!!

    June 19, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. Tman

    Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't they be able to work out their own problems without us putting our two cents in? Also don't we have our own problems?? Just curious...

    June 19, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. Shelia

    Did we really have to create a bil just be in someone else country. If this is history are we not breaking a common law , respedt others. Give us some answers please. Stop frontin!!!

    June 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. w.l. jones

    You will here a difference tune if every male in this country under the age of thirty five had to serve in the arm force for at least thirty month. I am quite sure our fine elected officer could come up with the little money for this under taken.

    June 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Matt in CT

    "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."

    Not too sure about that, "Mick," but you may want to check with your majority Democrats to see when a vote is going to be scheduled.


    June 19, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Illini

    President Obama SHOULD speak up for the "people" of Iran.

    You are a fool to think that the powers that be in Iran wouldn't blame the U.S. no matter what our President did or did not do. The "government" of Iran will never take responsibility for its own actions. It doesn't matter what the U.S. says TO THE GOVERNMENT of Iran.

    It will however matter to the people of Iran for our President to simply state that he supports their right to fair elections and peaceful protest. This isn't "sticking our nose in their "election" It's acknowledging the brutality and murdering of citizens who are disagreeing with their government.

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

    June 19, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. Thinking Straight

    Our naive house members are under the mistaken notion that this is a pro America demonstration. They can serve our interest best if they are equally bipartisan when dealing with America's domestic affairs.

    June 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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