US Congress overrules Obama’s Veto over 9/11 victims

US Congress has voted to override the veto of President Barack Obama on a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabian officials, the BBC reports.

 

In an almost unanimous override the Senate voted 97 in favour and 1 against the override while the House of Representatives voted 348-77, meaning the bill becomes law.

 

The House and Senate unanimously passed the legislation, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism (JASTA), this year despite the Obama administration’s lobbying efforts.

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The bill amends a 1976 law that shields other countries from American lawsuits, allowing victims’ families the right to sue any member of the Saudi government suspected of playing a role in the 9/11 attacks.

 

CIA Director John Brennan said the vote carried “grave implications” for national security, adding: “The downside is potentially huge.”

 

However, President Obama told CNN the lawmakers had made “a mistake”.

 

Mr Obama argued in his veto that the bill would undermine US-Saudi relations and warned of tit-for-tat lawsuits against US service members in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

The president argued the bill could expose US companies, troops and officials to potential lawsuits abroad.

He told CNN “It’s a dangerous precedent and it’s an example of why sometimes you have to do what’s hard.

 

“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.”

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