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U.S. House votes overwhelmingly for Iranian resolution

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Lone dissenter: "We know very little ... about what is happening in Iran"
  • House votes 405-1 for resolution supporting democracy in Iran
  • Republican Sen. John McCain offers similar resolution in Senate
  • McCain, other Republicans criticize President Obama's warning against "meddling"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday that says it supports "all Iranians who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law."

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, D-California, co-sponsored Friday's Iran resolution.

Throngs in Tehran cheer Thursday for defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, center.

The resolution was approved by 405 lawmakers, while one -- Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas -- voted against it. Two others, Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Indiana, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, voted "present."

In a statement on his Web site, Paul said he voted against the 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 by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, D-California, and two Republicans, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Speaking shortly after the resolution passed, Pence called it a message from Americans 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 Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, introduced Friday.

Both Pence and McCain have been outspoken in their criticism of President Obama's response to massive rallies in Iran against the results of last week's presidential election. Video Watch as Obama walks a fine line »

Supporters of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi have taken to the streets this week calling for a new election after the results of the June 12 vote showed an overwhelming victory for hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The rallies also have denounced the Iranian government's crackdown on the protests in which at least eight people have died.

Obama has said he is "deeply troubled" by the violence, but he has avoided siding with Ahmadinejad's opponents, telling reporters, "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.

But several Republicans, particularly McCain -- Obama's opponent in last year's presidential race -- have criticized the administration's position.

McCain introduced a resolution on the Senate floor Friday morning that he said would be "an expression of support by the government and the people of the United States of America" for those protesting the election results.

"It is unfortunate in a way that this resolution is required since the administration does not want to 'meddle' and has refused, the president has refused to speak out in support of these brave Iranian citizens, most of them young, who are risking their very lives to protest what was clearly an unfair and corrupt election," McCain told his fellow senators. Video Watch what else McCain said about Obama »

The resolution passed Friday states that the House:

  • "(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;
  • "(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cell phones; and
  • "(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections."
  • On Thursday, Cantor joined the critics of the White House, 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.' "

    Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, added, "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." Video Watch amateur video of protesters under attack »

    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, 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 told CNN's "The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer."

    "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, saying 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 those taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, said he supports the Obama administration's position.

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    "I think if I had any conclusion to draw, we would have been much better off not interfering in Iran now," Kennedy 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.

    All About IranU.S. CongressJohn McCainBarack Obama

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