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. Chipster

    Is there a point to quoting something that wasn't said, isn't true, and just makes you look desperate enough to fabricate something like this?

    June 19, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Matt

    @petehoekstra I didn't get exactly what I ordered for lunch today and demanded they fix their mistake; similar to the US House of Representatives meddling in the Iranian elections.

    June 19, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. joe smith

    now, if only the House could find a way to supply the American people the information from the Freddie Mac report that was due out in May ( 2009 ), is there not a Cabinet member whose responsibility it is to make sure this report is not only made in a timely manner, but that Mr. Geitner, is so informed, that he can report to the President, and he in turn report to the American people.. is this too much to ask..

    June 19, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. Imarriedmy sister in Mississippi

    Good for the House,now they can say they earned their pay raise.Not.Anyone got a good used Banjo for sale?Mine got stuck in some mud.

    June 19, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. pam Eugene OR

    Mick at 12:59 makes a great comment. I can't believe the Democrats bought into this.
    They people have important work to and they are do not have time for this crap!
    President Obama is right in the way he was handling this. These fools have given the Supreme Leader grounds to say the Americans are involved in their election. I wonder how this resolution will help when the protesters are being shot. The utter arrogance and stupidity of these Representatives is mind boggling.

    June 19, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. Gary in VA

    Thin is in. I don't care what a president did for Africa. I am in the United States of America, born here, raised here and have fought for this contry. I whole heartedly support President Obama's stance and position on Iran. You see where the last hot headed, thinkless/thoughtless president got us into. President Obama is a thinker, scholar, political strategist and more. Just let the man do his job. The strongest word ever was the one not spoken. Open your minds and not your hearts on this one. Follow your mind you can think your way out. Follow your heart you get emotionally caught up.

    June 19, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Louise in NC

    I just hope and pray that we don't pi** somebody off that will cause harm to our brave men and women in uniform that are fighting in two countries that border Iran. Pictures on Getty images show Iranians burning the US flag after this Friday prayer service.

    June 19, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. ghost

    Thin is in, Bush didn't move on Dafur until years AFTER it all started. And then, he finally called it genocide...after the prodding from the international community for years. You guys love to claim action after years of inaction have caused the deaths of numerous people.

    June 19, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. JP

    Someone wrote "why are we not taking a stand against China on human rights issues".
    The answer is you don't talk rudely to your banker, lest the credit line dries up. In Iran's case we have no fear of credit line drying up.

    June 19, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. NVa Native

    More political "blah blah blah". A load of crap.
    The religious radicals of Iran are the only ones who care what our politicians think – and they will use that to our disadvantage. The Repuglican grand standing is for filing Fox media air time. Blovated garbage from the Repugs and Fox ~ which will as usual have a negative impact for the citizens of the US, and the world.
    Stupid is as stupid does.
    President Obama is right again.

    June 19, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Katy

    People & Government forget about history. Almost every thing US touched turned out against US / American. Vietnam war, remember? Iraq war, remember. Now you want US involves in Iran. Iranians must rise and earn their freedom by their own hands. I support President Obama's Iran strategy. We have enough with two current wars and this is time for government WH & two parties to focus on rebuilding US and stablizing the economy & health care.

    June 19, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Jeff E.

    This is just another exercise is political posturing from the dim bulbs in Congress. I guess they can't see past their own narrow interests to understand that actions like this only add fuel to the hardliner's argument that the protests are the result of US interference.

    June 19, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. sue

    Obama is 100% correct. We have done enough damage. I love the USA as much as next person but we have made mistakes, we do not need to continue the same "sable rattling" policies.

    My suggest to the H of Rep, is get to work on the Economy, Health Care, and Environment! You are wasting time!

    June 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. ANNY

    This action is appalling, that the members in the house do not respect the President enough to let him make the decisions about what to do and what to say in political situations......I will never vote again republican as long as I live, I will from here on out vote a straight Democratic ticket.......even though this was brought up by a democrat that should be kicked out on his rear........the republicans couldn't wait to get their 2 cents worth in on this situation......Maybe Iran should have stepped in and called the Bush/Gore a freud too......

    June 19, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    This sounds okay but why wouldn't they also pass a similar resolution for what is happenning in Georgia, the former soviet province?
    The president of Georgia, our ally, has cracked down on the media and people's freedoms for a few years now. Protesters are currently being beaten in the streets but nothing from Obama.
    This is another example of the same old USA policies. We will support dictators who are friends to the USA and bash those countries who are not friendly.
    The people in the breakaway provinces in Georgia wants their freedom too but Obama doesn't care about that and neither does congress.

    June 19, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Mark in Miami

    At least they have a spine. What's up with Obama? He'll criticize our country but not Iran. This guy is a DISASTER.

    June 19, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. Mark in Miami

    There is only one supreme leader. IT's not the Ayhatolla nor OBAMA, like the liberals thinkg.... it's our God above.

    June 19, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. Jen

    "Freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law." When has the GOP ever been for any of these things?? Only when it suits their twisted agenda of course. Freedom? They want to take away women's rights here at home. Human Rights? St. Paul 2008 RNC ring a bell? 300 protesters and journalists beaten and arrested by police and FBI. Civil Liberties? Ha...all I have to say is "ask a Mexican". Rule of Law?? The United States tortured people in the 21st century. Bush politicized our Justice Department! Let's see....Katrina, Valerie Plame, Ohio 2004, Abu Ghraib, Halliburton, Preemptive War, Walter Reed, Blackwater, Gitmo...etc etc etc.

    June 19, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  19. Barb

    What is with the Democrats and this resolution. President Obama made the case VERY CLEAR.... leave Iran's revolution or not to that country, and not allow the U.S. to become a diversion to what is really taking shape there. His fellow Democrats should have quashed this resolution as quickly and firmly as the President killed the famous fly.

    June 19, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. honest Ab

    My question is how are making resolutions to protect and help gain freedom for another country's people, when we are a mess ourselves and none of those idiots in Washington has a clue as too what they should be doing to solve them. I guess they figure, if we stick our BIG nose in someone else business, our problems will go away. My God this country is in serious trouble. United we stand, divided we fall; we are falling like a ton of bricks.

    I say we should call on other countries to liberate us!!!!!!

    June 19, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    So now the House is now doing it's best United Nations impression! A resolution and thats about it!

    June 19, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. bgblg2005

    Mike June 19th, 2009 12:46 pm ET

    not to be rude, but why is our congress wasting time on stuff like this and apologizing for slavery….

    Please do something to earn your salary
    I agree that meddling inIrans business is a waste of time but appologizing for slavery, I guess they have to seeing that those who commited the act are dead and those that are alive that still think there was nothing wrong with it and would do it again if given the chance won't. As a black man I don't want reparations, if I was given a check I'd hope that people would follow suit and return it so it could eb used for something useful. At most I'd hope the appology would be more of a step in healing internal wounds that have yet to be healed in this country, and I'm not just talking about what happened to african americans but to anyone who was hurt by the travestee, let us not forget that there were white Americans who were hung and tourtured because of thier belief that slavery was wrong and they were enslaved and killed because they tried to free slaves.

    June 19, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Joe the Troll

    They night as well put bumper stickers on their cars for all this means.

    June 19, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  24. Leah

    @ Thin is in?
    you sheep remember when we used to care about freedom?

    Right! and where that got us, GW care so much for Iraqi freedom
    over 4,000 Americans solders dead, over 100,000 innocent Iraqi lose their life. US has over 1.3 Trillion deficit. and the two wars still on going

    It's time US minding their own business, fixing healthcare, fixing crumbing roads and infrastructures, help children to have better educations, Fixing what is needed in America.

    June 19, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Steve (the real one)

    @Jefe June 19th, 2009 12:54 pm ET
    Gross violations of the Constitution
    Unnecessary Debt Spending, buying insurance companies, banks, and GM
    Funneling of $Billions to cohorts like ACORN
    Lying to the public about campaign promises, remember the 5 days we get to review bills?
    Destruction of the middle-class (mo taxes, mo taxes, mo taxes)
    Drastic increases in illegal immigration (Can't anger the new voting bloc)!
    Drastic increases in terrorist recruitment
    Decimation of the readiness of our national defense
    JEFE, why are you criticizing President Obama? I was under the impression your are a fan club member!

    June 19, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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