June 19th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
5 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. UNEDUCATED AMERICA

    let me guess who was the only one who voted no-

    the only one who upholds his oath of office-

    the only one who understands blowback-

    the only one who told us during the presidential campaigns that we were about to have a housing and credit crunch-

    Ron Paul- a real patriot

    the only one who understands our meddling in other sovern countries' afairs is the reason why we are hated around the world.

    Let it not be said, that we were not warned.

    June 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Tim

    Ron Paul and Obama, two peas in a pod.

    June 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Tim

    Kate you are right, all 405 neocons in the house are undermining Obama.

    June 19, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. John M in NoHo CA

    "supports all Iranians who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law."

    Whose rule of law?

    Our law?
    Would we acknowledge any Iranian law during our 2000 election fiasco?

    A Universal law?
    Who determines what that is?

    Iran's law?
    Then they accept being oppressed with whatever the rulers say.

    A bit like the renaming Freedom Fries resolution, I think.

    June 19, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. S Callahan

    It seems some think it is wrong to 'voice' support for those who oppose tyranny....it's not. What would be wrong is to send delegates to Iran to press our views. Remember we are a free nation/republic and can express these views...and should. Somehow boundaries are being confused.....

    June 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Fair Play

    What arrogance!!! The duly elected President of the United States has the support of the Iranian people, Middle East experts and, judging from the comments on many blogs lately, the American people in his handling of this situation yet all that is forsaken in the name of American "moral do-gooding".

    June 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Tim

    WhoCares,

    Liberals don't care how this will effect the people of Iran. They only care how it will effect the perception of Obama.

    If they cared about the people of Iran, they would realize the people of Iran are communicating with us every time they hold up a sign written in English.

    June 19, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. worriedmom

    @Carole
    I can tell you are such a dedicated U.S. Citizen. Please do us a favor and go to Iran!!! What an idiot you are.
    We need to clean up our own act on voting and rights before we preach to others. Maybe you and ACORN should go together.

    June 19, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. mikeTPA

    So they don' t have enough to do so they spend time passing meaningless resolutions? Ha, I thought their job was to worry about Healthcare, the economy, jobs etc, maybe I have it wrong, its more important once again for america to dictate our views to other countrys. If you think the Iranians care about what we think you are as delusional as they are.

    June 19, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Tim

    We should always remain silent in these situations. Just like Reagan did when he went to West Germany and declared, Mr. Gorvachov, you have a nice wall here.

    June 19, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. dave

    You know that's nice but less we say the more we can help the opposition over there. This will also show the world that these people running Iran are nuts.

    June 19, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Dean

    What a bunch on idiots we have up there in DC. It doesn't matter who the winner in Iran is nothing will change policy wise.
    If the shoe were on the other foot and Iran was calling for a resolution about us all these guys would call it meddling on our election.

    June 19, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Deborah from KC/RN

    President Obama is doing exactly right. No one, who was a supporter of the previous administration, will ever approve of any of our current President 's policies. That's why they are no longer in power. The Iranian people are standing up for themselves and showing the world what their government is like. We should not cause them harm and further opression, by our actions. We will have to deal with whatever government is in power and so will they. We can help them the most by getting this information out to the world and showing their struggle. I think the Iranian people, who are fighting for their freedom; are getting support and encouragement directly from Americans- on the internet. Much better, since our government is only likely to make things worse for them, if it interferes.

    June 19, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Once Again

    Hey Obama Fans...How did you come to the conclusion that rest the world hated the US under W??
    Could it possibly be that foreign governments passed resolutions??

    June 19, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Lisa in FL

    This is outrageous! Wasn't the President elected in November as Commander in Chief? Isn't it the Commander in Chief who sets foreign policy? I swear, the lack of support this President receives from members of Congress (republicans mainly) is unprecedented. Obama should REALLY take a stand with these morons over this.

    Oh, I forgot. Republicans – Country First.

    June 19, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. Jim in Indinana

    Republicans must rolling on the floor with laughter at the gutless dumbocrats who did not have the guts to stop this stupid resolution. When your enemy is selfdestructing you shut up and stay out of his way. This is moronic. As a Democrat I am ashamed at every one who voted for this. We have betrayed the people marching in the streets with their by interfering.

    June 19, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Ravi in CA

    It appears the US never learns from the past...sticking our noses in other countries affairs creates animosity towards us. We claim it's because they hate our freedoms, when the real reason is our ill-conceived and over-inflated sense of entitlement over their affairs. This is the dumbest resolution I've ever seen.

    June 19, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. YEA BUT!!!

    @Joan June 19th, 2009 12:48 pm ET***You are sooo Right !!!
    Wonder if Iran had interfered With the Bush/Gore Election ...would it have made a difference....Rethugs stop sticking your nose in something that you can't control .......you are going make matters WORST......for the Protestors.......The Rethugs are grand-standing

    June 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Royster

    The scariest part of all this to me, is that Israel will launch a unilateral unanounced strike on Iran, using this sham election as a pretext and throwing us all into a regional catastrophe.
    Obama was right to stay out of this so far......Iran is already blaming the U.S. as a convenient scapegoat for meddling in their election.

    Give Iran a chance to self-destruct, which it seems to be doing, and layoff them until them. Change is best from within, which Obama understands. Change forced from outside does not work....look what Bush did in Iraq.

    June 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Willie

    How, exactly, will this solve anything? This makes our government's lawmakers look like loose cannons who do not let a single voice speak for us, but instead many speaking on their own accord.

    Considering the Iranian government has already used some US lawmaker's words as fuel to the fire, this will only strengthen the extremists' views of the west in that country and only weaken the protester's position against them.

    Summary: Dumb, irresponsible, and rash move that accomplishes absolutely nothing.

    June 19, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. Esco

    Good grief! Must they counter everything Obama does to make him look bad? Right now, we might be facing another war with Korea if they launch missles, and we are going to start another one with Iran too? What is this really all about?

    @Jon, your comment makes no sense at all...how is Obama not a real leader...please explain?

    If Iran starts its own war, then let it be their fight. By then, the U.S. should have authority to step in and help the people. But for now, it really just another time bomb for the U.S.

    June 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. Thin is in?

    Obama is shoiwng his true gutless liberal don't make anyone mad at us by us uh, uh, uh taking stand FOR the people fighting for their freedom.

    You sheep remember when we used to care about freedom?

    You American idol president (no capital deserved) is indeed voting present just like the gutless never worked a day in his life fraud did while in the Senate for his ten minutes.

    I applaud the Democrats and Republicans for actually standing up for the people of Iran who want something better, unlike you never SERVED or SACRIFICED sheep who expect everything handed to you.

    The last President did more for Africa than any President ever with the help of the Republicans, so save your racist BS as it is just a lie.

    YOU progressives ought to be ashamed.

    June 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. dave

    Leave it to someone from Mississippi to sound like a chicken-hawk and blame everybodies troubles on Obama. Now you let them know how we feel do you think they will stop trying to develop nukes, redo the election I don't think so. Let the State Department handle this Mike we will get a better out come.

    June 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. Dan in Chicago

    I assume Ron Paul was the one "no" vote. Good for him... while the situation in Iran is serious and we should all hope to see freedom/civil liberties protected, along with an honest election, it's really none of America's business. Additionally, our Congress, really has no authority to be passing resolutions/making statements on the behalf of others/in situations that are beyond their jurisdiction.

    June 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. ghost

    I propose a resolution banning future resolutions that don't actually resolve anything.

    June 19, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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