On Friday, September 9th, the United States House of Representatives passed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” or JASTA, by a voice vote with no objections. JASTA passed unanimously in the Senate in May.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts over its “alleged ties to the terrorists who carried out the attacks,” The Washington Post reports.
Despite the bill having 21 co-sponsors in the Senate, almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and being overwhelmingly passed in both chambers, President Obama vetoed it Friday, telling Congress:
“Enacting [this legislation] into law, however, would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.”
According to CNN, Obama added that the bill “threatens to limit their [allied nations] cooperation on key national security issues, including counterterrorism initiatives, at a crucial time when we are trying to build coalitions, not create divisions.”
The administration also claims that “American officials could now be sued in foreign courts over U.S. military or diplomatic actions abroad…[posing] a threat to national security,” according to WaPo.
A congressional veto override is expected.
In the meantime, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump offered a blistering response to Obama regarding the veto:
“President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is shameful and will go down as one of the low points of his presidency…
This bipartisan legislation was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress and would have allowed the families of the nearly 3,000 people slaughtered by radical Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001, the opportunity to seek justice in an American court of law…
That President Obama would deny the parents, spouses, and children of those we lost on that horrific day the chance to close this painful chapter in their lives is a disgrace…
These are wonderful people, and as a lifelong New Yorker, I am saddened that they will, for now, not have that opportunity. If elected president, I would sign such legislation should it reach my desk.”
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had also said she supports JASTA.