Senate votes to override Obama veto on 9/11 bill

Senate votes to override Obama veto on 9/11 bill, Fox News, September 28, 2016

(97 to 1 — DM)

senveto

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to overturn President Obama’s veto of a bill letting families of Sept. 11 victims sue the Saudi Arabian government, bringing Congress within reach of completing the first successful veto override of Obama’s presidency.

The Senate voted 97-1 to reject the veto. The measure heads next to the House, where lawmakers will need to muster a two-thirds majority, as in the Senate, to override. 

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on the Senate floor moments before Wednesday’s vote, pushed back hard on Saudi government objections to the legislation, which has broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

“It’s very simple. If the Saudis were culpable, they should be held accountable. If they had nothing to do with 9/11, they have nothing to fear,” Schumer said.

An override now appears all but certain and would mark a blow to the president in the final months of his term.

A group of senators pledged to find ways to improve the measure during a postelection, lame-duck session of Congress. With elections just over a month away, many lawmakers are reluctant to oppose a measure backed by 9/11 families who say they are still seeking justice 15 years after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The White House was still fighting the override attempt in the final stages.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Obama warned the bill could cause chaos in U.S. foreign affairs, as other countries would use the measure to justify the creation of ways to target “U.S. policies and activities that they oppose.”

“As a result, our nation and its armed forces, State Department, intelligence officials and others may find themselves subject to lawsuits in foreign courts.” Obama wrote in a letter delivered Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a letter Monday to a senior member of Congress, said he’s sympathetic to the intent of the measure. But the legislation could lead to the public disclosure of American secrets and even undercut counterterrorism efforts by sowing mistrust among U.S. partners and allies, according to Carter.

If the House also overrides, the bill would become law. During his nearly two full terms in office, Obama has never had a veto overridden by Congress.

The legislation gives victims’ families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Courts would be permitted to waive a claim of foreign sovereign immunity when an act of terrorism occurs inside U.S. borders, according to the terms of the bill. Saudi Arabia has objected vehemently to the legislation.

Obama vetoed the measure last week, telling lawmakers the bill would make the U.S. vulnerable to retaliatory litigation in foreign courts that could put U.S. troops in legal jeopardy.

But the bill’s proponents have disputed Obama’s rationale as “unconvincing and unsupportable,” saying the measure is narrowly tailored and applies only to acts of terrorism that occur on U.S. soil.

Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow and co-chair of September 11th Advocates, criticized Carter’s assessment, saying that the defense secretary had testified before Congress last week that he wasn’t an expert on the bill.

Explore posts in the same categories: 9/11, Obama and Saudi Arabia, U.S. Senate, Veto override

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One Comment on “Senate votes to override Obama veto on 9/11 bill”


  1. And to lone vote in the Senate against the override was cast by none other……

    Dirty Harry. – LS


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