Congress overrides veto of 9/11 legislation
WASHINGTON – In a resounding rebuke, Democrats joined with Republicans Wednesday to hand Barack Obama the first veto override of his presidency, voting overwhelmingly to allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts for its alleged backing of the attackers.
Both the House and Senate voted decisively to reverse Obama’s decision to scuttle the legislation. Democrats in both chambers abandoned the president in large numbers despite warnings from Obama and top national security officials that flaws in the bill could put U.S. interests, troops, and intelligence personnel at risk.
The Senate vote was 97-1, with only Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., backing the president. The House vote a few hours later was 348-77, with 123 Democrats rebuffing the president and voting to override. Obama said during a CNN interview that overriding his veto was a mistake that may set a “dangerous precedent.”
Lawmakers said their priority wasn’t Saudi Arabia, but the 9/11 victims and their families who continue to demand justice 15 years after attackers killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Washington, D.C., area, and Pennsylvania. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis.
“Overriding a presidential veto is something we don’t take lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a