The Senate and the House of Representatives both voted on Wednesday to override President Obama’s veto of a 9/11 lawsuit bill, overriding the President’s veto. This is the first overridden veto of President Obama’s administration. The last President to go without any overridden vetoes was President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The legislation at hand focuses on Saudi involvement with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The now law allows families of the victims to sue the Saudi government in court over their involvement.
The override was approved by large majorities in both parties. In the Senate, the override was approved 97-1 with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) proving to be the only vote to sustain the President’s veto.
Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, did not vote, but he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was a Senator for New York at the time of the attacks, support the bill.
Even though there was bipartisan support, twenty-eight Senators from both parties signed a letter warning of “unintended consequences.” The letter says, “If other nations respond to this bill by weakening U.S. sovereign immunity protections, then the United States could face private lawsuits in foreign courts as a result of important military or intelligence activities.”
President Obama has made similar warnings while coming out against the legislation.
“Enacting JASTA into law … would neither protect Americans from terrorists attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks. Doing so would instead threaten to erode sovereign principles that protect the United States, including our U.S. Armed Forces and other officials, overseas,” President Obama wrote in his veto statement.
“That is why I vetoed the bill and why I believe you should vote to sustain the veto.”
CIA Director John Brennan weighed in on the matter by saying, “All the national security officials of this government recognize how bad this legislation is for our national security interests and how negatively it’s going to effect it.”
The White House made its displeasure clear as top spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the override was the “single most embarrassing thing the Senate has done since 1983.” 1983 refers to the last time Congress overrode a veto with such a high margin.
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) responded to Earnest’s jab by saying, “Asking us to stand between 9/11 families and their day in court is asking a lot.”