WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, is reaching well beyond his San Joaquin Valley congressional district in an effort to formally chastise Iran.
Adding his voice to an already loud Capitol Hill chorus, Costa last week introduced a resolution condemning Iran for its violation of human rights and its refusal to halt its quest for nuclear weapons.
The largely symbolic measure lacks the bite of formal sanctions, which lawmakers also are seeking to tighten. But Costa, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, insisted it's important to take note of the fraudulent Iranian elections and ensuing arrests of protesters.
"We need to recognize this phony regime for what it is: It is a killer of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of press," Costa said when he introduced the resolution.
Since last year, more than 100 pieces of legislation regarding Iran have been introduced by Congress.
In January 2009, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., introduced a resolution to recognize "the threat that the spread of radical Islamist terrorism and Iranian adventurism in Africa poses to the United States." In July 2009, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., proposed a resolution to expand economic sanctions against Iran.
On June 21, the House passed new sanctions in an attempt to isolate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps economically, while also trying to stop the influx of petroleum into Iran.
"As champions of freedom and democracy, the United States must, must condemn these abuses of this Iranian regime," Costa said.
According to the CIA, Iran is a state that sponsors terrorism and has been the subject of United Nations sanctions since 2006, when the world body tried to stop Iranian uranium enrichment.
Costa's resolution refers to current sanctions against Iran passed by the U.N. and the United States. He said that this legislation is a call for Iran to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons and mistreatment of the Iranian people.
He also referred to the "sham" elections last June as a prime example for Congress to take a position. For days after the election, hundreds of protesters, as well as political leaders calling for a vote recount, were arrested.
In a phone interview, Costa noted that his resolution is backed by a bipartisan effort and is designed to highlight Iran's violation of human rights and curtail its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Texas Republican Ted Poe is a co-sponsor.