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. truthsayer

    This is nothing but political posturing. The neocons would like nothing better than to stat another war and serve their corporate, war profiteering masters

    June 19, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Peace Out!!

    @Mississippi Mike June 19th, 2009 12:53 pm ET
    Why isn't Obama supporting the Hope and Change going on in Iran?
    Why are You, Sean,Limbaugh,Newt,Chenney,McCain,Rove and Liz
    Supporting the Hope and Change For America
    @Jon in CA June 19th, 2009 12:40 pm ET......Too bad Obama isn't a REAL leader.....President Obama is Great Leader......You are Follower that doesn't Count and the Rethugs are Grand Standing ......Rethugs clean up your own HOUSE (America)

    June 19, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    What good is this going to do? overwhelmingly approved a resolution that supports all Iranians.

    June 19, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. virginia for obama

    All you commenting about Obama taking a stand for Iran should be a shame of yourselves. You don't give a D#$@m about the Iranian people 's safety you never did and you know it. I never heard you or those senators say anything good about Iran before.

    You all saying this nonsense only because you don't like Obama.

    I see your parents or somenone in your life taught you well.

    June 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Rob

    As I support the freedom, and civil rights of people around the world it isn't our responsibility to involve ourselves in another nations internal affairs.

    June 19, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Patty

    Jon in CA

    A real leader knows when to keep his mouth shut.They all ready are saying we are meddling. Why do this and prove it? We have enough of our own problems here. Our congress needs to be busy on that.

    June 19, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Capt. SNarKy

    Jim in Indinana June 19th, 2009 1:41 pm ET Wrote
    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."

    Hey, Jim – did yah notice that most of the signs show in the news asking "where's my vote" were written in ENGLISH? Do you think the individuals carrying them were looking for support from the Iranian goobermint? Hell, no, RocketMan! They are looking to the U.S. for support – DUH!

    June 19, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. virginia for obama

    The DEMS are starting the get on my nerves too. They are SO GUTLESS. They let the RETHUGS scare them into or out of EVERYTHING. When the Rethugs we in control they SHUT THE DOOR IN THEIR FACES ON EVERY ACCOUNT. You Dems need to do the SAMETHING and STOP being so SPINELESS!

    June 19, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Scott W.


    If you think Obama is a gift from God, you're totally drunk on his kool-aid.

    We need to stay out of Iran's business. Do you want them meddling in our affairs? It's not beyond the realm of possiblility that the CIA is and has been involved in creating civil unrest in Iran for some time. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. These protests will only give Obama a reason for going to war with Iran with the full support of all the Anti-War liberals who ragged on Bush for invading Iraq. Can't you tell when you're being played?

    June 19, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. Darth Vadik, CA

    Hey morons, bith Republican and Democrat, when will we learn that medling in Iran does not work. We've been trying since the 1950's.

    How about we lweave the Iranians alone.

    June 19, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Let's not forget we toppled their last real democracy in 1953 and installed the hated Shah in order to control their oil. He terrorized and killed many tens of thousands of his own countrymen with U.S. backing and funding. So of course Iranians fear our meddling in their affairs once again….wouldn't we in their shoes? The 2000 and 2004 elections HERE were tampered with to insure Bush got the White House so the NeoCons could pursue their dark agenda....what if Iran had meddled in either or both?

    June 19, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. Angus McDugan

    Why do dems keep comparing Obama to Bush. Isn't Obama his own man. Let's look forward and just compare him to what he has done which is not a good reflection on him. I guess the only way to justify Obama is to compare him to Bush. Please give this up. I am tired of the presidency of excuses. I want action.

    June 19, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    bill on slavery – result – nothing
    bill on Iran – result – nothing

    Wouldn't it be great if the governement actually DID something that resulted in SOMETHING?

    June 19, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. J in NJ

    @ Mick – "...grand standing Repiglicans..."

    Did you not notice that the vote was 405 – 3. Given that Dems outnumber Rethugs how exactly is this "...grand standing Repiglicans"?

    The resolution, which also "condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators," was sponsored by Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, a California Democrat, and Republicans Mike Pence and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. Seems like Nazi Pelosi's definition of bipartisanship.

    Let's take look at this another way. If you agree with BHO, whose stance is generically we cannot "interfere in the internal affairs of other countries", then logic dictates we must also stay out of the Israel/Palestine issue.

    June 19, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. Jeff

    Yes....please spend time voting on something that is non-binding and has absolutely nothing to do with us.... that sounds like a much better way to spend time than trying to iron out the healthcare package.... Seriously guys! Can you keep your eyes on the ball and worry about us for a change.

    June 19, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. Mark

    Don't we have enough problems here to take care of. Why are these idiots wasting time that should be spent on American issues voteing on meaningless resolutions?

    June 19, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. Susan L.

    This was an incredibly stupid move by Congress and can easily result in the destruction of the fledgling Iranian freedom movement and the deaths of thousands of Iranians. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Especially the Democrats! Why one Earth did you go along with this shameless Republican grandstanding? Gutless Cowards! I already think the Republicans in Congress are complete idiots (except for Ron Paul - he was absolutley 100% correct on this one), but now I'm not so certain that the House Democrats are even bigger idiots. You are the majority and your party has the White House, and not only do you hand Ayatollah Khamenei a knife with which to kill the protesters, you hamstring President Obama with it while you're there. Disgusting! I hope the Senate isn't so short-sighted and stupid. I've already written to my Congressman (a Democrat) to complain and I've written to my Senators (also Democrats) to ask them not to go along with any similar nonsensical, counter-productive, idiotic moves should the Senate take it up, too.

    Utterly shocked and saddened by the COMPLETE stupidity of the US Congress.

    June 19, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Pragmatic

    Be careful of who you are supporting to lead Iran:

    Time magazine said that Mousavi was "labeled by one Reagan Administration analyst as the 'most radical in the top leadership'."

    An ex-Prime Minister of Iran (during one of its most repressive periods), he is a brother-in-law of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

    Mousavi "shuns all contact with the West and is a fierce proponent of nationalization of foreign companies and government control of the economy."

    His ascent to the Iranian premiership in October 1981 "marked not only a total victory for the fundamentalists in their quest of power consolidation but also a victory for the maktabis," a faction which sought and achieved clerical dominance of Iranian state power.

    ... this ain't George Washington we are talking about here .....

    June 19, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Lue Blackwell

    I wish that the Homeland Security or Attorney General's office could get all of the legislatures that voted for the resolution for TREASON! The fact that they would go and undermine the President is shameless-when Bush & Cheney were doing all of their "underhand & unscrupulous things to the U.S.-where were these "punks" then? You spineless Democrats-that did not even attempt to block the votes-WE WILL REMEMBER YOUR PUNK - the next election!

    June 19, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Ted

    I find it amazing that so many people are against a statement in support of the protesters. If we support them, and I think most of us do, why should we be afraid to express our sentiments?

    Of course, if the mullahs do crack down, they'll be sure to blame the US and gain all sorts of supporters from the American left.

    June 19, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. JVS

    I really feel sorry for people like 'Thin is in?' and 'mississippi mike'. Their comprehension skills are no better than a child's. They just don't get it. It almost makes me feel embarrassed for them, reading their uninformed, clueless comments. Don't worry, President Obama will help all Americans...even the less educated.

    June 19, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. Fear based leaders/crooks

    Ron Paul is the only one with any intelligence on this issue. These clowns would ban ice cream cones if they watched a scary propaganda video which was made by the CIA. This crowd doesn't even read any bills anymore.

    If they read the Constitution or understood that tyrants use our political stupidity against us to hold onto power,. Acting tough and meddling, recruits a mindset of oppression and anger which helps tyrants rally support more easily.

    good job Ron Paul

    June 19, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. danel

    Jon in CA. It is not your business to stick your nose on Iran's political business. We got plenty of problems here. You want to go and fight for them. go ahead.

    June 19, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. danel

    They pass resolution benefiting Iran protesters? How's that suppose to do? And yet no GOP pass resolution benefiting the American people go figure.

    June 19, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. Paul from Kissimmee

    So, what does this really do? Anything? Will this stop them from killing protesters? Probably not. And how is any elected official allowed to vote "present"? I don't get this. Aren't they supposed to take a side on these issues? Obama did the same thing in the Senate, and look what we wound up with. A spineless wimp that will let Iran and North Korea push us around.

    June 19, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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