The wrong side of history
As Mary noted earlier this month, Obama’s veto of the bill to allow 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia for its involvement is likely to be overridden by Congress. The votes will occur this week: in the Senate on Wednesday and in the House on Friday.
For the first time in President Obama’s tenure, the Senate is set to override his veto of a bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts.
The president vetoed the bill Friday, citing concerns that it could open the U.S. government to similar lawsuits.
. . . . But the bill passed with unanimous voice votes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, meaning the veto override, set for a Senate vote Wednesday and House vote by Friday, will likely get the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to pass.
“I look forward to the opportunity for Congress to override the President’s veto, provide these families with the chance to seek the justice they deserve, and send a clear message that we will not tolerate those who finance terrorism in the United States,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement Friday.
Obama’s veto pits him against not only the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack and their families but against his own party, including the current Democrat candidate for president.
Mr. Obama issued the veto behind closed doors on Friday without fanfare, reluctant to call attention to a debate that has pitted him against the families of terrorism victims. Not long before he did so, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, who had previously backed the measure, confirmed that if she were in the Oval Office, she would sign it.
. . . . [P]ressure is building on Congress to reconsider the measure, whose passage underlined the lasting political clout of the 9/11 families that have long demanded it — and the diminishing standing of Saudi Arabia and its supporters in Washington.
Mr. Obama argues that the measure would overturn longstanding principles of international law that shield governments from lawsuits, potentially opening the United States to a raft of litigation in foreign countries.
But supporters note that those principles already have several exceptions, and contend they are merely seeking to add another narrow one that would allow United States courts to hold foreign governments responsible if they assisted or funded a terrorist attack that killed Americans in the United States.
. . . . Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, called Mr. Obama’s action “disappointing,” and said it would be “swiftly and soundly overturned in Congress.” “If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation,” Mr. Schumer said.
The Saudis are actively working to kill the measure.
The New York Times continues:
Saudi officials have denied that the kingdom had any role in the Sept. 11 plot, and an independent commission that investigated the attacks found “no evidence” that the government or any senior official funded it. But the commission’s narrow wording left open the possibility that less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government had played a role.
The Saudi government has deployed powerful lobbyists and public relations professionals to try to kill the measure. In recent days, it has turned to national security leaders, Fortune 100 corporate executives and retired military personnel for backing.
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