Just 24 hours after standing up to the White House and intense Saudi lobbying and overriding the veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), the Congressional leadership is already feverishly backtracking and promising to “fix” the bill in such a way as to placate Obama and the Saudis.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) said the changes were worth “further discussion,” while his House counterpart Speaker Paul Ryan (R – WI) promised to outright “fix” the bill in such a way as to prevent “ant kind of retribution.”
While there was no real debate in the Senate ahead of the override vote, within the House several opponents were calling for changes that would dramatically weaken the bill to be immediately negotiated, win or lose, and it seems they’re getting exactly that, with everyone all set to knuckle under to warnings of Saudi outrage and “unintended consequences.”
The White House, which called yesterday’s override the “most embarrassing” thing the US Senate has ever done, mocked them for promising to fix the bill to placate Obama, saying that the Congress had “rapid onset buyer’s remorse.”
Public opinion is seen overwhelmingly in favor of JASTA as it is presently written, and indeed the White House sought to avoid this override until after the election so the will of the voters wasn’t so prominent for senators.
Reflecting the desire to keep the public placated, while at the same time giving in to Saudi demands, Sens Bob Corker (R – TN) and Lindsey Graham (R – SC) both indicated that the “fixes” would be implemented after the November elections, during the lame duck session.
That means for the next month and a half the JASTA nominally will be law, but with the understanding that it is going to be watered down to virtually nothing immediately after the vote, once everyone has gotten reelected for passing the bill, and can then shift focus back to what the Saudis want.