WASHINGTON — Coinciding with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York, the House of Representatives voted 397-16 Tuesday to pass a bill that would expand economic sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. The bill also calls on the State Department to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.
On Wednesday the Senate passed a separate non-binding measure also calling for the Revolutionary Guard to be labeled and blacklisted as a terrorist organization.
Sponsored by Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., the amendment to the defense authorization bill was passed 76-22 after two sections were removed to satisfy Democrats that it will not serve as a backdoor authorization for war against Iran.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was later criticized for voting for the measure in a televised New Hampshire debate among Democratic presidential candidates.
“I have no intention of giving George Bush the authority to take the first step on a road to war with Iran,” said Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, mentioning that two other candidates on stage, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, had voted against it.
Candidate Mike Gravel said “I am ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it.”
Clinton defended the vote, saying it would allow the U.S. government “the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran.”
Another non-binding resolution was passed overwhelmingly Wednesday suggesting the partitioning of Iraq into semi-autonomous regions based on sectarian divides.
Sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., D-Del., the measure passed 75-23 with unusually strong bipartisan support.
Implicitly criticizing the Bush administration’s reliance on the Iraqi central government to unify the country, the resolution call on Baghdad to give more control to Iraq’s ethnically divided regions.
The White House responded by saying it did not oppose the measure because it made clear that Baghdad’s power-sharing agreement should be left up to the Iraqis.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday also passed a resolution expressing support for the Lebanese government and condemning Syria and Iran for “ongoing roles in providing arms to Lebanese militias, particularly Hizbullah and Palestinian factions in Lebanon.”
The resolution was passed 412-2, opposed only by Dennis Kucinich, D-OH., and Ron Paul, R–TX.