Throughout his two terms in office, Barack Obama has never had a veto overturned by the Senate, until today. In a stunning rebuke of Obama, the Senate voted 97 – 1 to override Obama’s veto of the 9/11 lawsuit bill which would allow families of those who perished on that horrific day 15 years ago to sue the government of Saudi Arabia, who is believed to be behind the attack, for the deaths of their loved ones.
Every single Republican and every Democrat but one voted to override Obama’s veto which sided with the Saudis over the families of the 3,000 killed in that Islamic terrorist attack. The only one to vote against overriding the veto was Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). The House is expected to vote later in the day on Wednesday. If the measure passes the House, the bill becomes law. It will also cast a dark shadow over the legacy of Barack Obama as he nears the end of his presidency to be rebuked so strongly by his own party.
Obama sent a letter to Senate leaders on Tuesday claiming that the bill would “erode sovereign immunity principles that prevent foreign litigants ‘from second-guessing our counterterrorism operations and other actions that we take every day.'” He added that it could open up a legal Pandora’s box which would lead to the United States and our military being sued for the deaths of others caused by our military.
Texas Senator John Cornyn, Republican, called Obama’s attempt to convince the Senate to not override his veto “unpersuasive.” Cornyn said, “This bill is about respecting the voices and rights of American victims.” He added that it is written narrowly to only apply to acts of terrorism on U.S. soil.
One Democrat who voted for the override of Obama’s veto, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), explained why he voted to override Obama’s veto. He stated, “The risks of shielding the perpetrators of terrorism from justice are greater than the risks this legislation may pose to America’s presence around the world.”
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.
Obama’s attempt to convince people that this 9/11 lawsuit bill could lead to lawsuits against America if it becomes law was dismissed by the families of 9/11 victims as fearmongering.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz released a statement very soon after the announcement of the Senate override of Obama’s veto 97 – 1.
“I applaud my colleagues for joining together and with the American people to stand against President Obama’s attempt to deprive terror victims from receiving full recourse under the law. Our nation has a duty to ensure that American victims of terrorism, first and foremost the 9/11 families, are able to receive justice. Congress, by passing JASTA, will do just that and will continue to protect our brave men and women in uniform who defend our freedoms and way of life across the globe. I encourage my colleagues in the House to follow the Senate in overriding the president’s veto and enact JASTA into law.”