Tags: 9/11 Commemorations | override | veto | Obama | 911 | victims | bill

Congress Defies Obama, Saudi Lobby to Override Veto of 9/11 Victims Bill

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Barack Obama (Getty Images)

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Wednesday, 28 Sep 2016 04:18 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In overriding President Barack Obama's veto of a bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi Arabian government for their involvement in the attacks, the Senate and House on Wednesday defied intense efforts from both the White House and the well-heeled Saudi lobby in the U.S.

Led by one-time Senate GOP Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., lobbyists for Saudi Arabia as well as corporations which do business in the kingdom kept up their efforts to thwart the override right up to the vote.

On Monday night, Lott emailed key Senate staffers warning enactment of the 9/11 victims bill could lead to other countries withdrawing their assets from the U.S. or enacting their own laws to allow claims against the U.S. "to the detriment of the U.S."

Lawmakers were unfazed.

The first-ever vote to override a veto by Obama since he became president drew well above the required two-thirds in both houses of Congress. In the Senate, the vote was was 97-1, the lone vote to uphold the president's veto of JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) being cast by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"The 9/11 families themselves were key to JASTA’s passage and to the override vote today," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chief sponsor of the legislation, told Newsmax. "There's no question about it."

In the House, the vote late Wednesday afternoon was 348-77 in favor of the overrride, with one member voting present.

King recalled how "when [House Speaker] Paul Ryan came to New York, he met with many of the victims' families and listened to them carefully. They also spoke with other Members of Congress, so this was a true grass-roots movement."

He added the fight for the 9/11 victims bill was "truly bipartisan," singling out Democratic Sen. Chuck Schemer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., for their efforts behind the measure.

King also hailed House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., as "key" to the vote on the bill making it to the House floor.

For weeks, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has warned overriding the president's veto of the bill — in effect, overturning the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which grants immunities to countries that aren't designated state sponsors of terrorism — could lead to retribution against Americans in uniform, diplomats, and even private business executives abroad.

"So that means we take no action at all whenever we're attacked because someone may do something bad to us?" King told Newsmax, responding to Earnest's warnings.

House members who discussed the intense campaign by Saudi Arabia's lobbyists to stop the override almost always mentioned Lott and his efforts. The former Senate majority leader was ubiquitous in his efforts on behalf of the Saudi kingdom, lawmakers told us.

"Lott will cry all the way to the bank on this one," said one GOP House member who requested anonymity.

Also active in the fight on behalf of upholding the president's veto were such major corporations as General Electric, Dow Chemical, and Boeing — all of which do business within the Saudi kingdom and warned their assets there could be at risk if JASTA became law.

Lott, his fellow lobbyists, and the same businesses are expected to push for a watering down of JASTA when Congress returns for a lame-duck session after November.

For now, as King put it, "this is a day the 9/11 families can celebrate."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

 

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In overriding President Barack Obama's veto of a bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi Arabian government for their involvement in the attacks, the Senate and House on Wednesday defied intense efforts from both the White House and...
override, veto, Obama, 911, victims, bill
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2016-18-28
Wednesday, 28 Sep 2016 04:18 PM
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