The House and Senate voted Wednesday to reject President Obama’s veto of legislation allowing lawsuits against foreign sponsors of terrorism — the first successful override of a presidential veto since Obama took office.
The president had vetoed the legislation Friday because he said the bill — known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA — would infringe on the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy. It was the 12th veto of his presidency.
But after an intense push by 9/11 survivors and families of victims who want to sueSaudi Arabia based on claims the country played a role in the 2001 terror attacks, even Obama’s Democratic allies on Capitol Hill voted to override his veto.
The House voted 348-77, well above the two-thirds majority needed. The final vote tally in the Senate was 97-1. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., cast the lone dissenting vote.
So the House voted to over-ride by 82% and the Senate by 99%. Not even close.
The legislation provides the green light to several lawsuits — consolidated into one case on behalf of 9/11 victims and several insurance companies — as lawyers attempt to prove Saudi government involvement in the terrorist plot. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on 9/11 were Saudi nationals.
It will be fascinating to see how the lawsuits now go. What will happen if they rule the Saudi Government is liable and should pay damages? I can’t imagine they would.