US Congressional Committee Approves Iran Democracy Promotion Legislation
Voice of America - Report Section

Apr 14, 2005



House Middle East Subcommittee
VOA photo - D. Robinson

A U.S. congressional committee has approved legislation seeking to strengthen existing U.S. sanctions on Iran and put more pressure on Iran's government on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, while providing greater support for Iranian democracy groups.

The Iran Freedom Support Act declares it should be U.S. policy to support human rights and pro-democracy forces in the United States and abroad opposing what it calls the non-democratic government of Iran.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

The bill, whose authors say is supported by some 140 House members, was approved Wednesday by the House Middle East Subcommittee chaired by Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. "Iran is the full ticket. It has medium and long-range missile programs, it is believed to have (a) chemical and biological weapons program, it is pursuing nuclear capabilities, it remains the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world," he said.

The legislation codifies existing sanctions against Iran, under the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, and includes stricter provisions regarding the waiving of sanctions by the president, and requirements for investigations of suspected investments in Iran.

As before, sanctions would remain until the president certifies Tehran has dismantled weapons of mass destruction programs and commits to combating proliferation of such weapons.

The bill also threatens to withhold foreign assistance from countries investing in Iran's energy sector by defining this as direct support for Iran's regime.

Lawmakers say stronger provisions are aimed at closing loopholes allowing foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to circumvent penalties regarding investment in Iran.

"The Iran-Libya sanctions has been law although no one has ever been sanctioned under it. Instead, we have a grand bargain with our European and Japanese friends if they will pretend to take our concerns about Iran seriously, we will pretend to enforce our laws. In the meantime, Iran inches ever closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon," said Congressman Gary Ackerman, the top Democrat on the House Middle East Subcommittee.

The legislation urges, but does not require, U.S. government and other pension funds to divest from existing investments in companies subject to sanctions under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act and to avoid future investment.

The bill contains mandatory sanctions for persons or entities helping Iran acquire or develop chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons or related technologies, or what it calls destabilizing conventional weapons.

What the United States suspects is Iran's effort to acquire nuclear weapons under the guise of domestic energy development is a key focus.

It urges President Bush to press for a U.N. Security Council resolution requiring Tehran to provide international inspectors unrestricted access to its nuclear facilities, with a threat of further sanctions.

The legislation would authorize funding for groups pressing for democratic reform, human rights, and civil liberties in Iran.

However, it requires that such groups also oppose the use of terrorism, a provision linked to the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, still officially listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen cautions there will be strict standards for assistance, adding in her words, it is not that you can just re-invent yourself as a pro-democracy group in order to get funding.

The legislation would also fund independent democracy and radio and television broadcasters for Iran.

The U.S. government finances Radio Farda, which broadcasts to Iran, as well as television and radio broadcasts by the Voice of America's Persian service.

The Iran Freedom Act is likely to be approved by the full House International Relations Committee. Similar Iran legislation is pending in the Senate.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen says Bush administration support will be crucial to chances for approval by both houses of Congress.

Title: To hold the current regime in Iran accountable for its threatening behavior and to support a transition to democracy in Iran.
Sponsor: Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] (introduced 1/6/2005)      Cosponsors (136)
Latest Major Action: 1/6/2005 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on International Relations.

COSPONSORS(136), ALPHABETICAL [followed by Cosponsors withdrawn]:     (Sort: by date)

Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] - 1/6/2005

Rep Aderholt, Robert B. [AL-4] - 4/5/2005

Rep Alexander, Rodney [LA-5] - 3/16/2005

Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] - 1/6/2005

Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] - 4/5/2005

Rep Bachus, Spencer [AL-6] - 1/6/2005

Rep Baker, Richard H. [LA-6] - 2/15/2005

Rep Bass, Charles F. [NH-2] - 4/5/2005

Rep Bean, Melissa L. [IL-8] - 3/8/2005

Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 1/6/2005

Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] - 1/6/2005

Rep Biggert, Judy [IL-13] - 1/6/2005

Rep Boehlert, Sherwood [NY-24] - 1/6/2005

Rep Bonilla, Henry [TX-23] - 2/15/2005

Rep Bonner, Jo [AL-1] - 4/5/2005

Rep Bono, Mary [CA-45] - 2/17/2005

Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] - 3/14/2005

Rep Boustany, Charles W., Jr. [LA-7] - 4/5/2005

Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] - 3/16/2005

Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 1/6/2005

Rep Butterfield, G. K. [NC-1] - 2/16/2005

Rep Cantor, Eric [VA-7] - 1/6/2005

Rep Cardoza, Dennis A. [CA-18] - 3/14/2005

Rep Carter, John R. [TX-31] - 3/17/2005

Rep Chabot, Steve [OH-1] - 1/6/2005

Rep Chandler, Ben [KY-6] - 1/6/2005

Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 2/17/2005

Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6] - 4/8/2005

Rep Cole, Tom [OK-4] - 3/10/2005

Rep Costa, Jim [CA-20] - 3/14/2005

Rep Cox, Christopher [CA-48] - 1/6/2005

Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 1/6/2005

Rep Cuellar, Henry [TX-28] - 3/17/2005

Rep Cunningham, Randy (Duke) [CA-50] - 4/8/2005

Rep Davis, Artur [AL-7] - 4/5/2005

Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 2/16/2005

Rep Davis, Geoff [KY-4] - 4/5/2005

Rep Davis, Jo Ann [VA-1] - 1/6/2005

Rep Davis, Lincoln [TN-4] - 4/8/2005

Rep Dent, Charles W. [PA-15] - 2/9/2005

Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] - 1/6/2005

Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] - 1/6/2005

Rep Doolittle, John T. [CA-4] - 2/9/2005

Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] - 3/14/2005

Rep Emanuel, Rahm [IL-5] - 2/9/2005

Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 1/6/2005

Rep Faleomavaega, Eni F. H. [AS] - 1/6/2005

Rep Ferguson, Mike [NJ-7] - 3/14/2005

Rep Foley, Mark [FL-16] - 1/6/2005

Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] - 1/6/2005

Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] - 2/9/2005

Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] - 3/16/2005

Rep Green, Mark [WI-8] - 1/6/2005

Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 3/17/2005

Rep Harris, Katherine [FL-13] - 1/6/2005

Rep Hart, Melissa A. [PA-4] - 4/8/2005

Rep Herger, Wally [CA-2] - 3/16/2005

Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] - 1/6/2005

Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49] - 2/15/2005

Rep Jindal, Bobby [LA-1] - 3/14/2005

Rep Johnson, Timothy V. [IL-15] - 1/6/2005

Rep Kelly, Sue W. [NY-19] - 2/9/2005

Rep Kirk, Mark Steven [IL-10] - 1/6/2005

Rep Kline, John [MN-2] - 2/15/2005

Rep Knollenberg, Joe [MI-9] - 3/17/2005

Rep Kuhl, John R. "Randy", Jr. [NY-29] - 3/16/2005

Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] - 1/6/2005

Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] - 1/6/2005

Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] - 4/5/2005

Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3] - 2/9/2005

Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] - 3/8/2005

Rep Mack, Connie [FL-14] - 3/8/2005

Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 4/8/2005

Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 3/14/2005

Rep McCaul, Michael T. [TX-10] - 2/15/2005

Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 1/6/2005

Rep McCrery, Jim [LA-4] - 4/8/2005

Rep McHenry, Patrick T. [NC-10] - 3/8/2005

Rep McHugh, John M. [NY-23] - 3/1/2005

Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] - 2/15/2005

Rep Meek, Kendrick B. [FL-17] - 2/17/2005

Rep Melancon, Charlie [LA-3] - 3/16/2005

Rep Menendez, Robert [NJ-13] - 1/6/2005

Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] - 1/6/2005

Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 4/5/2005

Rep Miller, Candice S. [MI-10] - 2/16/2005

Rep Murphy, Tim [PA-18] - 4/8/2005

Rep Myrick, Sue [NC-9] - 1/6/2005

Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 1/6/2005

Rep Norwood, Charlie [GA-9] - 1/6/2005

Rep Nunes, Devin [CA-21] - 1/6/2005

Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] - 2/16/2005

Rep Pence, Mike [IN-6] - 1/6/2005

Rep Pickering, Charles W. (Chip) [MS-3] - 2/9/2005

Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] - 1/6/2005

Rep Poe, Ted [TX-2] - 4/5/2005

Rep Pombo, Richard W. [CA-11] - 3/16/2005

Rep Porter, Jon C. [NV-3] - 1/6/2005

Rep Renzi, Rick [AZ-1] - 2/9/2005

Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] - 4/5/2005

Rep Rogers, Mike [MI-8] - 4/8/2005

Rep Rohrabacher, Dana [CA-46] - 1/6/2005

Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 1/6/2005

Rep Ryan, Paul [WI-1] - 1/6/2005

Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 4/5/2005

Rep Sanchez, Loretta [CA-47] - 3/8/2005

Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] - 1/6/2005

Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 2/15/2005

Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 4/5/2005

Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. [PA-13] - 2/15/2005

Rep Scott, David [GA-13] - 3/17/2005

Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-5] - 3/10/2005

Rep Sessions, Pete [TX-32] - 3/17/2005

Rep Shaw, E. Clay, Jr. [FL-22] - 3/8/2005

Rep Shays, Christopher [CT-4] - 4/8/2005

Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 1/6/2005

Rep Shimkus, John [IL-19] - 1/6/2005

Rep Simpson, Michael K. [ID-2] - 3/17/2005

Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 1/6/2005

Rep Souder, Mark E. [IN-3] - 1/6/2005

Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] - 2/15/2005

Rep Sullivan, John [OK-1] - 1/6/2005

Rep Tancredo, Thomas G. [CO-6] - 1/6/2005

Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] - 4/5/2005

Rep Upton, Fred [MI-6] - 4/8/2005

Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 3/16/2005

Rep Visclosky, Peter J. [IN-1] - 4/5/2005

Rep Walsh, James T. [NY-25] - 2/9/2005

Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 4/5/2005

Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 3/1/2005

Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] - 4/5/2005

Rep Weldon, Dave [FL-15] - 4/8/2005

Rep Weller, Jerry [IL-11] - 1/6/2005

Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 1/6/2005

Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] - 1/6/2005

Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] - 4/5/2005