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. D. Tree

    This voter would much rather my representative spent time passing healthcare reform instead!

    June 19, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Larry

    What is this? Just more political dribble?

    No resolution had to be written in the first place. The Iranian election was none of our business.

    This is exactly why the world laughs at us. This is just more worthless rhetoric.

    June 19, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Andi

    I agree with the poster who says this plays into Khomeni's hand. It was very short-sighted of the House to spend any time at all on this resolution. I'm sure there are a few pressing issues in THIS country that need attention.

    June 19, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Mike in MN

    Thank you House of Representives!! Congress has not forgotten their American values. Where are the President's on this? He doesn't want to take sides, calls the violence a heated debate. Obama is too soft and too timid to lead.

    June 19, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Barbara CA

    The members of the House of Representatives believe that it is well worth it to pass this resolution even if it causes the anger towards and death of many courageous young people???

    Aren't these many of the same Representatives who for the last 8 years have labeled Iranians as a whole as ‘terrorist’???

    Now they are concerned about their "freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law".

    Hypocrisy and self promotion are the giant elephants in the House of Representatives.

    June 19, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. J

    The House has spoken. Both parties voted in a landslide.

    But our fearless dictator will only do what makes him look "cool" Thanks for voting MTV generation....you elected an incompetent president with so spine....but he sure is a sports fan!

    June 19, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. J


    June 19, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. Lesley Anne

    I'm glad to know that we have at least a couple of sane politicians in our congress. If they would get together on the business of health care, just to name one thing, like they've jumped all over this, we might actually begin to repair our sinking economy and bring hope to the people of this country, or aren't they interested in life, liberty, and the pursuit of decent health coverage for us any more?

    June 19, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. Tim

    And for all you kool-aide drinkers, the whitehouse says it is the same message that Obama is sending.

    Change that requires a different sort of common sense to understand.

    June 19, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. matt

    Sorry...how can you pass a resolution supporting freedom of speech, freedom of press, civil liberties, etc in Iran, when the religious leader of Iran himself basically said that it is open season on anyone caught protesting. Empty words from an empty Congress. No wonder your approval rating is so low.

    June 19, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. MatthewDetroit

    At least Congress did something.
    Wimp barack would not even come out against it.

    June 19, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. IsaacTheForcedCatholic

    Only the REAL Republican voted against it because he knows the "TRUE VALUES" of a republican... Too bad for America that the other rethuglicans don't know "REAL REPUBLICAN VALUES"

    June 19, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. matt

    NVa Native wrote...
    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.

    Seriously...Congress is controlled by the DEMOCRATS. Nothing passes Congress unless the DEMOCRATS agree to it. Since it passed the House with one dissenting vote (a Republican) and passed the Senate unanimously, that means every single DEMOCRAT voted in favor of the resolutions.

    Your hatred and grasp of nothing make your rants all that more laughable.

    June 19, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Jon

    Thanks, congress, for wasting your time passing a useless (toothless) resolution, when so work needs to be done.

    On the other hand, the more time congress spends passing resolutions that don't add spending to the debt or result in higher taxes, the better off we may be.

    June 19, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. TARIG

    last year all American laughed at Iranian democracy.... today everbody is crying for its violation ... i can never understand u Americans !!

    June 19, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Lauren

    I think the republicans who backed this measure are desperately looking for something to attach themselves to. In coming out so forcefully they run the risk of getting caught up in something they have no business being involved in.

    I did not hear or see any Iranians screaming foul and getting involved in the election Bush stole from Gore, so why do the repubs feel that we need to get involved in an election in another country.

    The party of no, who has rejected everything Obama has proposed, are opportunist. They think this makes them look good, they continue to be a bunch of hypocrites who are not even supporting their own country.

    Contrary to the story the repubs are trying to spin, I have heard Obama make a statement about this situation, he is also supporting the people of Iran in their quest for freedom and fair elections.

    June 19, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. DawnL,CA

    NOW Congress wakes up? Keep the USA out of Iran's problems. Time to mind our own business for a change. The President is right-this is not the time to be seen as "meddling".

    June 19, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  18. KEITH

    Fine, I agree.
    I do believe however that we have more
    important matters to spend our congrssional
    time on.

    June 19, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. matt

    @ Lauren...

    Go back and read the article. In case you need me to spell it out for you...ALL OF THE DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS VOTED FOR THESE RESOLUTIONS.

    Geez Demwits....stop the rhetoric already. Your Democratic congressmen voted for this...PELOSI, REID, KERRY, BIRD and on and on. Get a freakin grip!

    And the argument about the "stolen" 2000 election is ridiculous. Did the government crackdown on anyone found protesting the results? Did anyone die while protesting? Did the leader of this country (which was STILL Clinton) come out and slam the protestors? NO NO NO

    Get a real argument.

    June 19, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. william gair

    Hey Congress! Shut up!

    June 19, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. Spencer

    So what exactly is the point of that? It has zero power to affect any outcomes other than galvanizing American opponents. I also fail to see how this is a Republican bill, as some of our "learned" commentators have stated as many sections of said resolution were jointly sponsored by Democrats and Republicans. But keep grasping at straws and maybe you can get Michael Moor to make another documentary on it.

    June 19, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. Dan, TX

    It is good to see Congress follow Obama's lead on supporting peaceful demonstration in support of democracy.

    June 19, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. Mike Allen

    And once again. A reasonable responce is not good enough for the voice of the far far very far Right Wing fringe spokesman, FOX's Sean Hannity. On his radio show the shrill voice of ignoranance and xenophobia, Hannity has called for military action against Iran for daring to support one of their hand picked election candidates over their other hand picked candidate. Then Hannity moved on to North Korea. Since N. Korea is going to attempt once again to get one of their pathetic little unarmed rockets to fly in the general direction of Hawaii, where it will fall short by a thousand miles. Hannity now demands military action against N. Korea! So. FOX and Hannity now want us to fight four wars simutaneously. Wars that our military is not ready for and which our ruined economy can in no way support. Geez! No wonder President Obama was elected. And Thank God !

    June 19, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  24. Zero.

    Resolution? With no solution. As usual the Dem's have a flat-tyre.

    June 19, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  25. Mike O'Brien

    I am scratching my head and thinking.., is there something wrong with Senator Ron Paul and his thinking and rational. Does Senator Ron Paul did a 'psychiatrist' ? Why is he always against everything.., sometimes even himself ? Mike in Montana P.S. What a 'confusing' man.

    June 19, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
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