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405-1, President Votes “Present”

The House passed a measure in support of Iranian demonstrators by a 405-1 margin. Ron Paul voted no. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana and Dave Loebsack of Iowa voted “present.” The resolution, which was “toned down” at the administration’s request, reads:

Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(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 cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

John McCormack has the moving statement in support of the resolution by Democrat Howard Berman which includes these words:

We cannot stand silent in the face of this assault on human freedom and dignity.

I repeat that we have no interest in interfering in Iran’s internal affairs. That era has ended.

This resolution “affirms the universality of individual rights,” as well as “the importance of democratic and fair elections.” Beyond that, it simply expresses its solidarity with “Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law.”

I don’t know how many of the demonstrators fall into that category, but I do know that many of them do.

This resolution also condemns the bloody suppression of freedom.

It is not a judgment on who won the Iranian elections. It is an acknowledgement that we cannot remain silent when cherished, universal principles are under attack.

Mr. Speaker, I want to just offer my appreciation to our ranking member and to the gentleman from Indiana for working together on a resolution which puts the House of Representatives on the side of the people of Iran. And with that, I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution.

How hard was that? Now that Congress has made a restrained but elegant statement will the president follow? Or does he still vote “present”? The Hill reports that the White House now fudges:

Shortly after the House vote on Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the resolution’s language is “very consistent” with what President Obama has said since the chaos began.

“Obviously, we welcome the resolution,” Gibbs said, adding that he believes “that it echoes the words of President Obama throughout the week.”

Except that’s a lie: the White House has not condemned the Iranian regime. Perhaps someone should ask the president personally to do so.

UPDATE: The Senate has passed a similar resolution sponsored by Sens. McCain and Lieberman.



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