On Sunday, the Grand Rapids Press ran a brief piece–one paragraph long–in its “polpourri” section reporting on the efforts of an unnamed “liberal advocacy group” that is pressuring Representative Vernon Ehlers on Iran. According to the Press, the group urging Ehlers to “stop the Bush administration from going to war with Iran.” In response to the effort, Ehlers is quoted saying that “There is no way I want to go to war with Iran. There is probably nothing to be gained by us attacking Iran.”
While it is comforting to know that Ehlers is opposed to a war with Iran, the article fails to examine Ehlers’ voting record on Iran or his public statements on Iran. As opponents of the Iraq War have learned in West Michigan, it is one thing to say that you are “not pleased” with how the war turned out–which Ehlers has said–and quite another to actively oppose it. With regard to Iraq, Ehlers has said that before the war started he raised concerns about the war, but those concerns were never made public.
With regard to Iran, Ehlers has said little publicly. In a July 18, 2004 article in the Grand Rapids Press (“Draft Talk Sends Chills”), Ehlers said “Given the present situation in Iraq I don’t see that as remotely possible” when asked about the possibility of invading another Middle Eastern country. During a debate in the last election, Ehlers said he that Iran is a “difficult” situation because of its location in the Middle East and their opposition to Israel.
Ehlers has voted in favor of a number of resolutions and bills that have passed the House of Representatives on Iran. None of the bills or resolutions support military action, but they do clearly demonize and isolate Iran. Ehlers has co-sponsored some legislation and resolutions that cast Iran in this light, with an example being the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007. Moreover, these resolutions and acts call for strict economic sanctions against the country and generally call for more aggressive efforts unilaterally by the United States and by the United Nations against Iran. Finally, as was the case with Iraq, Ehlers has not sponsored legislation or statements specifically calling for the President not to invade Iran.
Vern Ehlers’ Iran Voting Record:
YES on H. Con. Res. 203: Condemning the persecution of labor rights advocates in Iran (10/02/07)
Ehlers voted for and co-sponsored this congressional resolution condemning Iran for the arrest and imprisonment of Iran union leaders Mahmoud Salehi and Mansour Osanloo. The resolution also expresses “solidarity” with workers in Iran and their efforts to bring “political freedom” and “individual liberty” to Iran.
YES on H.R. 1400: Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 (09/25/07)
Ehlers voted for and co-sponsored this act declaring that Iranian president Ahmadinejad is violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” It calls for restricting Iran’s access to the World Trade Organization (WTO), bans the import of goods from Iran, requires parent companies to pay penalties for subsidiaries that do business in Iran, and calls on President George W. Bush to determine whether the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a terrorist organization, and prohibits the United States from exporting goods or services to countries that are assisting nuclear or advanced conventional weapons programs in Iran. The act also states that it cannot be interpreted as authorizing the use of force against Iran.
YES on H.R. 2437: Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007 (07/31/07)
Ehlers voted in support of this act authorizing state and local governments to divest from and prevent investment in companies with investments of more than $20 million in Iran’s energy sector, those that sell arms to the government of Iran, and financial institutions that extend more than $20 million in credit to the country for a period longer than forty-five days. The president of the United States is directed to publish a list of companies, institutions, and individuals meeting this criterion.
YES on H.R. 957: To amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to expand and clarify the entities against which sanctions may be imposed (07/31/07)
Ehlers voted in support of this act, which altered the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to clarify and expand to whom sanctions can be imposed.
YES on H. Con. Res. 21: Resolution Calling for the UN to Charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (06/20/07)
Ehlers voted in support of this resolution calling for the United Nations Security Council to charge Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and the United States charter because of his calls for the destruction of Israel. It also calls for the Security Council and UN member states to consider stronger measures to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and reaffirms the United States’ strategic partnership with Israel.
YES on H. Res. 1091: Resolution Condemning Iran’s Commitment to hold a Holocaust Denial Conference (12/08/06)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution condemning Iran for hosting an international holocaust denial conference. It also calls for the United Nations to publicly repudiate Iran’s anti-Semitic statements and to strengthen its commitment to act to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear power.
YES on H. Res. 976: Resolution Condemning Iran for Human Rights Abuses (09/26/06)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution condemning the human rights abuses of the Iranian government and calling for the international community and the United States to pressure Iran to halt discrimination and violence, especially towards women.
YES on H. Res. 942: Resolution Recognizing the Centennial Anniversary of Iran’s 1906 Constitution (09/20/06)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution recognizing the anniversary of Iran’s 1906 constitution and expressing hope that Iran will again “enjoy” a “democratic government” in the spirit of the 1906 Iranian constitution.
YES on H. Con. Res. 4155: Resolution Condemning Repression of Iran’s Baha’i Community (09/19/06)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution calling on Iran to cease repressive activities aimed at the Iranian Baha’i community and calling on Iran to grant the Baha’i rights guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The resolution also calls for the United States to make human rights practices a significant factor in U.S.-Iran foreign policy and making it an issue in discussions with the European Union (EU).
YES on H. Con. Res. 341: Resolution Condemning Iran for Violating Nuclear Nonproliferation Obligations (02/16/06)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution condemning Iran for violating international nonproliferation obligations and calling for Iran to be reported to the United Nations Security Council. The resolution also asserts that Iran has forfeited the right to develop any aspect of nuclear fuel because of its breaches of the “Safeguards Agreement.”
YES on H. Con. Res. 523: Resolution Condemning Iran for Threatening Israel (10/28/05)
Ehlers voted in support of this resolution condemning Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats against Israel. It calls for the United Nations Security Council and “civilized nations” to condemn the statements and censure Iran while also considering measures to deny Iran access to nuclear weapons.
YES on H. Con. Res. 398: Resolution Expressing Concern over Iran’s Development of Nuclear Weapons (05/06/04)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution stating that Congress condemns the Iranian government for failing to report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its continued deceptions regarding its nuclear program. It also urges the United Nations to take actions against Iran.
YES on H.R. 1883: Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 (09/14/99)
Ehlers voted in support of this act, which seeks to prevent the proliferation of certain goods, services, and technology to Iran.
YES on H. Res. 188: Resolution against Cruise Missile Proliferation (11/06/97)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution condemning the proliferation of cruise missile technology to Iran and calling for possible sanctions towards Russian entities involved in the proliferation.
YES on H.R. 3107: Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (07/19/96)
Ehlers voted in support of this act imposing sanctions on persons transferring goods or technology that could be used by Iran to develop petroleum resources. The act was touted as a way of lessening Iran’s support for international terrorism and limiting its capability to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
YES on H. Res. 416: Resolution Calling for Investigation of Iranian Arms Transfers (05/08/96)
Ehlers voted in favor of this resolution establishing a subcommittee of the Committee on International Relations to investigate the United States’ role in Iranian arms transfers to Croatia and Bosnia.
YES on H. Con. Res. 102: Resolution Calling for the Emancipation of the Iranian Baha’i Community (03/27/96)
Ehlers voted in support of this resolution calling for Iran to protect the human rights of its Baha’i community and encouraging international pressure on the country.