As expected on Friday, President Obama vetoed legislation allowing the families and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to pursue lawsuits against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Passed by the Senate by voice vote on May 17, the The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) passed the House months later on Sept. 9. Both chambers passed the bill unanimously by voice vote.
Immediately threatening a veto after its passage, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Mr. Obama’s stance on Thursday and repeated earlier assurances the White House would reject the bill.
The measure repudiated by Mr. Obama on Friday makes an exception to a 1976 law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which set limitations for litigation against sovereign nations in the U.S. court system.
“I recognize that there is nothing that could ever erase the grief the 9/11 families have endured,” Obama said. “Enacting JASTA into law, however would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.”
Confident of a two-thirds majority to override the expected veto, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters the Senate would abstain from breaking on Sept. 23 until after the November elections, saying it was “safe to say” the upper chamber would remain to address Mr. Obama’s veto.
After news of the predicted veto arrived, McConnell spokesperson David Popp confirmed the effort would be undertaken.
“Now that we have received the veto message from the president, the Senate will consider it as soon as practicable in this work period,” he said.
Should Congress muster the two-thirds majority required to override, it will be the first time the legislative body has reversed an Obama veto.
[The Hill] [Photo courtesy European Press Photo Agency via Wall Street Journal]