In a resounding vote Wednesday, Congress rebuffed warnings from both the White House and both American and foreign intelligence officials and dismissed Mr. Obama’s Friday veto of the The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism (JASTA) bill.
Wednesday morning’s congressional veto was the first time an Obama veto has been overridden.
Immediately following the congressional override, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made no effort to conceal Mr. Obama’s displeasure and reprimanded those who voted to turn away the president’s veto. Earnest declared the override as “the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983.”
“To have members of the United States Senate only recently informed of the negative impact of this bill on our service members and on our diplomats is in itself embarrassing,” he said. “For those senators then to move forward on overriding the president’s veto that would prevent those negative consequences is an abdication of their basic responsibilities of representatives of the American people.”
Now law, the legislation creates a legal passageway for victims’ families and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to pursue lawsuits against members of the Saudi government for their role in the attacks.
By a wide margin, the Senate turned away Obama’s veto 97-1; similarly, the House countermanded Mr. Obama’s check 348-77, with one Democratic member voting “present.”
In the upper chamber, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was the lone member of either party to vote to uphold the presidential veto. Reid, who once supported the bill, did not comment on his solitary dissent.
Following the congressional vote overruling his veto, Mr. Obama angrily denounced Congress, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper the vote was a “mistake” and entirely motivated by politics.
“It’s an example of why sometimes you have to do what’s hard,” he said. “And, frankly, I wish Congress here had done what’s hard. If you’re perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that’s a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do . . . And it was, you know, basically a political vote.”
Despite incurring the wrath of the White House, ranking members of the Senate appeared unmoved by Mr. Obama’s appeals to sustain his veto. Texas Senator John Cornyn, the Senate Majority Whip, said JASTA “is about respecting the voices and rights of American victims.”
[The Telegraph] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy RT]