Bill Allowing 9/11 Victims to Bring Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia Could Face Obama Veto
The Obama White House likes to complain that partisan politics and stonewalling by Republicans has led to the unprecedented gridlock that has marked his two terms in office, claiming that if only Congress would work together on common ground, progress could be made on solving the problems of everyday Americans.
Now it appears that Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – have called Obama’s bluff by sending the president legislation that would remove restrictions preventing the families of victims of 9/11 to take legal action against Saudi Arabia for its possible role in the terror attacks.
Fifteen of the 19 terrorists who hijacked the four planes and turned them into jet-fueled bombs propelled at over 500 miles-per-hour were Saudis.
The Senate passed the bill in May, but the final voice vote by the House this week means that the proposed law will be on the president’s desk as the nation observes the 15th anniversary of the day.
But Obama has already signaled that he will not allow the bill become law, citing the delicate relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, while establishing legal precedent allowing private citizen lawsuits against a foreign country.
All presidents have the Constitutional authority to veto legislation within ten days of officially receiving it from Congress. If no action is taken, the bill automatically becomes law.
However, a procedure – the so-called “pocket veto” –does exist whereby Obama could put off taking action on the bill – signing or vetoing it – waiting for Congress to adjourn within that ten-day period, in which case it is automatically vetoed.
While a pocket veto would technically let Obama off the hook, the perception that he does not fully support the families of 9/11 could damage the Democrat chances in November.
The entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election and anxious to return to their home states to hit the campaign trail, but advocates of the legislation are urging Congress to stay put for the full ten-day period to put pressure on Obama to sign it.
“This is more important than campaigning,” said Terry Strada, who was widowed by the attacks and serves as national chair of the organization for victims’ families bringing a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. “You can campaign after. You will never have a chance to pass [the bill] again. This is the priority.”