Obama Vetoes 9/11 Bill
The proposed law would be detrimental to U.S. national interests, says Obama.
Today, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act failed to receive President Obama’s stamp of approval. The bill, which proposes that the families of terrorist victims may sue the countries from which those terrorists originate, had received strong support from the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, who could use the expansion of jurisdiction to sue Saudi Arabia for damages.
The bill was co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of eleven Democrats and twelve Republicans, including Chuck Shumer (D-NY), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well as Independent Bernie Sanders.
In his address explaining his veto to Congress, Obama explained his fears of the bill’s implications. Among them were the concerns that the government would be less effective in addressing terrorism if that duty fell to the courts and that the legislation impedes upon long-standing practices of sovereignty for foreign states. Moreover, the bill opens up the possibility of reciprocation from other countries: U.S. soldiers might be sued for damages during conflicts in other countries or the government held financially and legally accountable for actions committed by groups to which the U.S. provided aid.
The JASTA…does not contribute to[efforts, both to help victims of terrorism gain justice for the loss and suffering of their loved ones and to protect the United States from future attacks], does not enhance the safety of Americans from terrorist attacks, and undermines core U.S. interests.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both confirmed that the bill is expected to be overridden by Congress next week. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a co-sponsor of the bill, seemed eager, saying, “I look forward to the opportunity for Congress to override the President’s veto.” Press Secretary Josh Earnest commented on the possibility of a Congressional override and those who shared Obama’s concerns about JASTA, saying on Thursday that “those that are uneasy about this are going to have to make their own decision about whether or not they’re prepared to vote in public the same way that they have talked in private.”
If successful, it would be the first override in Obama’s presidency.