HARTFORD – Fifteen years after the attacks on 9/11, families of the victims are one step closer to justice.
Congress overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama's veto of the Sept. 11 bill.
The Senate earlier rejected his veto of the legislation, that would allow the families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for the kingdom's alleged backing of the attackers.
On Thursday, Senator Blumenthal and the son of a 9/11 victim celebrated Congress’ action to override President Obama’s veto.
“It's really about the story of 9/11 it’s about accountability and it’s been about the truth,” Brett Eagleson said.
When Brett Eagleson was 15-years-old his father Bruce was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center, on September 11, 2001.
“We are just so happy that we can finally have our day in court, that`s all we've asked for,” he said.
Senators voted 97-1 Wednesday to override Obama’s decision to scuttle the bill.
The House override now means the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism act, or JASTA, becomes reality.
The legislation allows 9/11 victims’ families, like the Eagleson’s from Middlefield, to sue Saudia Arabia based on claims the country played a part in the terrorist attacks. 15 of the 19, 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.
Senator Richard Blumenthal sees this as setting the precedent for the future.
“They will also help deter other foreign governments from engaging in similar aiding and abetting of terrorists if they destroy lives and injure people in our country,” he said.
The override vote came even as the president and top military officials warned the measure could put U.S. troops and interests at risk.
During his nearly two terms in office, Obama has never had a veto overridden by Congress. President Obama called congress’ move a mistake.
“It's a dangerous precedent and it's an example of why sometimes you have to do what's hard and frankly I wish congress here had done what's hard,” Obama said.
Echoing concerns raised by the White House that the measure could open the US to similar lawsuits from people in other countries, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the law needs to be changed to ensure that US troops are protected.
"I'd like to think there is a way we can fix it so that our service members do not have legal problems overseas while still protecting the rights of the 9/11 victims," Ryan said at his weekly news conference.
The speaker voiced his own reservations about the bill earlier this year, saying people needed to look at the unintended consequences. But he explained that he ultimately decided to allow a House vote on it because "you want to make sure that the 9/11 victims and their families get their day in court."
Asked if Congress would try to fix the law when it returns for a post-election session, Ryan replied, "I don't know."