Washington, Sept 29: An overwhelming majority in Congress on Wednesday overturned US President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation that would allow families of those killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot, the first successful override vote of his presidency. Only one setor, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, siding with the president as 97 others voted Wednesday to override. In the House, the veto override was approved a few hours later, 348 to 77, the New York Times reported.
The measure would amend a 1976 law that granted other countries broad immunity from American lawsuits, allowing tions to be sued in federal court if they are found to have played any role in terrorist attacks that killed Americans on United States soil. The bipartisan vote was a rebuke of the President who had argued the Justice for State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) could open the US government to lawsuits for the actions of military service members and diplomats, CNNMoney reported.
Obama also warned it could damage America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, a troubled but key Middle East ally, and other allies who might be accused of terrorism. But the powerful emotiol appeal of providing 9/11 families a legal avenue to pursue justice proved too strong and carried the day.
The President spoke by phone to Sete Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Reid this week to urge them to sustain his veto. In a follow up letter on Tuesday, Obama said he was “firmly committed” to assisting the 9/11 families but that JASTA was the wrong approach. (IANS)