On Wednesday, the Senate and House voted to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue foreign governments.
Despite lobbying from the White House and the Saudi government, the U.S. Senate voted 97-1 on Wednesday to override President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The U.S. House voted 348-77 to override.
The bill allows families of terrorist attack victims – most prominently, in this case, families of 9/11 victims – to sue foreign governments that are deemed complicit in those attacks.
It is the first veto override of Obama’s presidency. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was the only “nay” vote for the override.
The measure has overwhelming congressional support, but not everyone thinks it’s a good idea: the White House and some members of Congress have pointed out this could open U.S. soldiers and the U.S. government to lawsuits from victims of military action abroad.
Still, the veto override is very rare. President George W. Bush was overriden four times in his eight years (an override rate of 33 percent, on 12 total vetoes in his presidency). President Clinton was overriden twice for 37 vetoes, a success rate over just over five percent.
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