Early today, the Senate overwhelmingly voted, 97-1, to override President Obama’s veto of the 9/11 victims bill, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), and after a debate on what to call a VA clinic, the House followed suit, in a 348-77 vote. This was the first override of Obama’s presidency.
JASTA would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over its involvement in supporting the attackers in the leadup to 9/11, as detailed in the “28 pages” from the 9/11 Report. Saudi officials have threatened to crash the US treasuries market in retaliation for the bill.
Both the House and Senate passed JASTA unanimously, and while the Obama Administration heavily lobbied after the veto, as did the Saudi government, it ultimately didn’t amount to very many lawmakers changing sides in the override votes, which were both overwhelming.
President Obama argued that JASTA was a “dangerous precedent” for American taxpayers, as other nations could reciprocate, setting up lawsuits against the US government for its own substantial misdeeds over the years, as well as for bankrolling foreign armed factions that did such things. He added that since the US is way more active overseas than anyone else, they are the most at risk from this precedent.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter also lobbied against JASTA, warning it threatens the troops, and that the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia might make public certain “American secrets” that would harm national security. He did not elaborate on what secrets the US might have relevant to a bill regarding pre-9/11 planning.