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Iran Press TV

US Congress overwhelmingly overrides Obama's veto of 9/11 bill

Iran Press TV

Wed Sep 28, 2016 5:34PM

The US Congress has voted to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation that allows victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot.

On Wednesday, Senators voted 97-1 in favor of the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)," which was vetoed by Obama last week, on the grounds that it would be "detrimental" to America's national security interests and its key alliances.

Only Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, voted to sustain the president's veto.

"Today is an important one for the widows and children of those murdered on 9/11. As always, I stand with them," Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who spearheaded the bill, said before the voting began.

Hours later, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted against the presidential decree, 348 to 77. Only 18 Republicans and 59 Democrats voted not to override the veto.

After the Congress vote, the bill would become law regardless of Obama's stance.

"We can no longer allow those who injure and kill Americans to hide behind legal loopholes denying justice to the victims of terror," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said.

Following the Senate vote, the White House condemned lawmakers.

"I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, referring to a 95-0 vote to override former US President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Support for JASTA runs high among US lawmakers, who voted to pass the bill with absolute majority on September 9.

The legislation effectively ends foreign countries' immunity from legal action in American courts.

In his veto message, Obama said that the bill had elicited "serious concerns" among some of America's allies.

Last Wednesday, the European Union (EU) called on the president to veto the bill, warning that it would "put a burden on bilateral relations between states."

Saudi Arabia has strongly opposed the bill, threatening to sell off $750 billion in American assets if it becomes law.

Of the 19 hijackers that allegedly carried out the attacks, 15 had Saudi Arabian nationality and available evidence suggests that some of them were linked to high-ranking Saudi officials.

"If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation. If they were culpable in 9/11, they should be held accountable," Schumer said shortly after Obama's veto.

US presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton said they would have signed the bill into law. Trump, the Republican nominee, has denounced the veto as "shameful."

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