Congress has just decided to override a presidential veto. This was a first for Barack Obama in his seven and a half years as president. So far, Congress had accepted the president’s vetoing of legislation. There is politics at play here. After all, this is an election year. With the White House and Congress having different opinions, Congress went a step further and moved to override the president’s decision.
Barack Obama had just vetoed legislation regarding the attacks on the September 11, 2001. An issue that no politician wants to be perceived as soft on.
Congress Overrides Presidential Veto
During his final year in office, Barack Obama gets one more snub from politicians on the hill, as Congress overrides veto. It is a presidential prerogative to oppose a piece of legislation if the president feels that it would not be good for the country. The piece of legislation that Barack Obama vetoed is informally called the 9/11 Bill. It allows the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to start legal action against the government of Saudi Arabia. Basically, the families of the victims could sue Saudi Arabia for compensation.
The first vote on Obama’s veto was in the Senate on Wednesday. Senators voted 97 to 1 to override the veto. The vote in the House followed with 348 votes to override and 77 against.
The piece of legislation is called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act and is very popular. With an issue that benefits from so much popularity it is inevitable that it would become law. However, the Obama administration strongly opposed the bill from the very beginning. Benefiting from a lot of support in Congress, JASTA went through the Senate without anyone raising any objections. Earlier this month, the House voted on it as well and it went through easily.
Senators Speak in Support of the Bill
John Cornyn, the Senate Majority Whip is one of the main sponsors of the bill. He said that the legislation was about pursuing justice. New York Senator Chuck Schumer also sponsored the bill. He spoke about the tragedy that the families have gone through. He added that justice can provide “a path to closure” for those families.
Speaking about the veto, Chuck Schumer said that “overriding a presidential veto is something we don’t take lightly”. But he added that the families of victims of 9/11 should be allowed to seek justice. Even if that is going to cause “some diplomatic discomforts”
In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Barack Obama expressed his opposition to the bill. The president went into detail about why the legislation would not prove to be a good thing for the United States. Obama wrote that JASTA would have far-reaching implications that would go beyond 9/11 or Saudi Arabia. It would possibly undermine principles that serve to protect the Unites States and would not lead to greater security.
Despite opposition from the White House, JASTA went through. Even if it took the override of a presidential veto for that to happen.
Image source: Wikipedia