Obama vetoes 9/11 bill, setting up potential override by Congress

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.

The move sets Obama up for a possible first veto override by Congress. Both chambers passed the bill by voice vote. The House sent Obama the bill just before the 15th anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

Obama says the bill would “upset longstanding international principles regarding sovereign immunity.”

The bill would have given 9/11 families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the attacks.

Fifteen of the 19 men who carried out the attacks were Saudi nationals.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a huge proponent of the bill, released a statement following the news of Obama’s veto:

I am confident that the Congress will overwhelming override the President’s veto. As evidence of Saudi Arabia’s complicity in the 9/11 attacks mounts, Congress will conclude that the loved ones of the victims deserve a fair day in court – simple justice. Closing this loophole will enable American victims of terrorism to hold accountable foreign governments who arm and finance extremist evil, no matter where they do their aiding and abetting. This veto denies Americans the opportunity to hold those evil extremists accountable through the very system of justice that they tried – and failed – to strike down. The argument that this legislation would increase the liability of the United States fails the test of fact and law. The United States does not sponsor acts of terrorism in other countries and the courts of law in other countries could not hold the United States responsible for acts that it does not do.