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. Reggie

    and Obama should too. Obama failing AGAIN.

    June 19, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Change!!!

    I agree with the President. I am so sick of the US getting involved in other countries mess and we can't keep our house in order. Stay out of other countries' business. This is part of the "Change" I voted for.

    June 19, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  3. Tom

    These Jackals have no problem telling other countries how to run their day to day business, but can't come close to agreeing to do anything here. There was an election here too. Some decisions were made. Some opinions were stated. Didn't anyone here or see the vote that occured in the United States in November?

    They all need to go!!! They just don't care about the American People!!!

    June 19, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. daniel

    Amazing how the people who vehemently decry government interference in their lives turn around and insist on their government interfering with the lives of people on the other side of the planet. Shouldn't be suprised I suppose. Remember, this is the same crowd that wigged out about "black helicopters" but stuck its abnormally large nose into the Terry Schiavo business.

    June 19, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Matt

    How about a resolution that applies the same standards for Americans. REPEAL THE PATRIOT ACT!

    June 19, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. Matt

    Funny how the only thing congress can ever agree on is laws for other countries.

    We should all remind them that this is not what we elected them for.

    June 19, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. LibertyQueen

    Thank Goddess Ron Paul didn't even get past go...another idiot republican. Stay in Texas, dude!

    June 19, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  8. tim/phoenix

    I think that President Obama is on the right path on the political issue on this to keep the US out of another countries political voting rights. When it comes to human rights and democracy based on individual rights and there is military interference then it may be necessary to start putting pressure on the regeime to assist those who are asking for human rights. We're looking at a government that is getting ready for war over the next few years with out the consent of the populus wanting this commentment. Sorry about the spelling. I am so tired of us getting involved in all these releigious wars around the world that it is a never ending battle. Look what happen to the Romans.

    June 19, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. GG

    What those republicans' warmongar want the president to do? is it not enough his grassroot movement high sephisticated technology is working right now inside Iran!!!

    June 19, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. POTUS BHO Alone: Has Power To Pardon Until Jan 20, 2017

    @Matt 6:01pm vs @Lauren:

    Your scorn for the "Demwits" is so telling. But as for your ding that PELOSI, REID, KERRY and BIRD voted for the House resolution subject here: This is back to you........

    The Legislative Branch – otherwise known as Congress, comprises both 435-members of The House of Representatives – of which PELOSI is the only one from your list. AND 100-members of The Senate – of which REID, KERRY and BIRD are the other three from you list.

    Of the four PELOSI is the only one who joined the dumb-vote for the House resolution. The Senate is trying to get a similar bill introduced by John McCain & Joe Lieberman – which has NOT yet been voted on.

    The Congress Needs to just shut-up and wait to see what happens over this weekend... like POTUS Obama is doing. Think, get ALL the facts before you open your fat mouth.

    There's your argument.

    June 19, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  11. Steve0

    Can we just stipulate:
    Republicans have small genitals so to make up for it they all love to show how big and bad they are – with words. Once the bullets start flying, most are cowards like W and Cheney.

    June 19, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  12. Daryl from Seattle

    Give me a break. The only reason McCain, Cantor, and the rest of the Repubs are up in arms over IRAN'S elections is because they've been drooling at the idea of getting into a fight with Iran for decades, for their oil and complete control of the region.

    The people of Iran do not have to live there if they don't like their government, which has been around for hundreds of years. If we want to show them support, offer them safe passage to the United States where they can have so-called democracy, liberty, and freedom. But I think the bloodthirsty and greedy Republicans would rather introduce democracy and liberty the same way they did to Iraq, with a gun saying convert or else.

    June 19, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. Jim

    This is a bunch of nonsense. Doesn't anyone remember the protests they had in Lebanon a few years ago? Bush came out in favor of one group and all it did was motivate the people we didn't like to come out against them. Does anyone ever hear China do this sort of thing? The smart guys do their work behind the scenes.

    June 19, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  14. TrueMuslim

    Paul and Obama are smart...
    Any intervention from the U.S will have a negative impact in Iran...
    Try to understand other cultures!

    June 19, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. Nini

    TO RAG:
    Obama has done NOTHING.
    The leader of the free world should be outraged that innocent people are being beaten to death for their peaceful protest.

    How can you say he is masterfully maneuvering? What happened to principal and the values that we hold in America? Iranian people are finally building up the confidence to stand up to the mullahs and our president with every speech legitimizes the likes of Ahmadinejad.

    Have you ever asked an Iranian how they feel about Carter? They all blame him for what happened in their country 30 years ago and now Obama making the same mistake.

    Where is Reagan when you need a real leader?


    June 19, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. Steve

    Why are Iranians chanting death to America. I thought the 12th Immam, Obama, made it clear in his speech in Cairo a couple of weeks ago that America is friends with Islam. What???? Did the Muslims not buy the garbage that Der Chancellor Obama spewed? Oh well, he shouldn't meddle.

    June 19, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. MZ

    Glad Congress found the cahones that Obama apparently doesn't have.

    June 19, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. Claudia in Houson

    I'm not impressed at all. They can agree on a vote for another country in a day, but can't do the same for matters regarding Americans.

    June 19, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  19. No Hillary = No Obama

    Ok, Hillary has a decision to make. Get up in front of the cameras and try to force words out of your mouth that you don't feel, don't believe or agree with or resign from Obama's mammy pammy, wishy-washy administration. Better to resign then walk around preoccupied, tripping and breaking bones.l

    June 19, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. But why won't Obama speak out?

    Maybe he needs a little testosterone.

    June 19, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  21. Mike Allen

    Iranians have something in common. They may fight among themselves. But. If they think an outsider is interfering then they quickley band together against the outsider threat. This is understood by the leaders in Iran which is why they are already claiming American involvment. President Obama being intelligent and worldly understands this. Which is why he is not letting America be sucked into this quagmire. But the Right Wing Neo Cons in the bumbleing idiot spirit of Bush and Cheney. Want to stumble into yet another violent foreign mis adventure. To qoute the ‘Tater’. “Ya just cant fix stupid”.

    June 19, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. Grinch

    With all the problems we have in our country, Congress is wasting time on this useless resolution.

    Butt out, people! It's none of our business. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

    Follow President Obama's lead and stop meddling!

    June 19, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  23. Nini

    Shame on you for not wanting the same freedom you enjoy for those living in Iran.

    Shame on those who say we should not be middling. Speaking against injustice and protecting the innocent goes beyond borders and the color of our flags.

    Get it through your head the dictators in Iran don’t need an excuse to kill; they do it because they CAN while you and I are watching.

    June 19, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. Grinch

    To Paul from Kissimmee -
    And what would you like the US to do in Iran and North Korea....start a couple more wars?

    You Republicans are nothing but a bunch of war mongers!

    We're already broke because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq!

    I know, let's drop a couple A-bombs - maybe that will make you happy! America, the big, tough guys!

    June 19, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  25. Demarcus Jackson from Columbia, TN

    I am positive that the House and the Senate have better, more important things to do like passing health care reform, fixing our economy, and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is such a ridiculous waste of time.

    June 19, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
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