After weeks of heavily lobbying the Senate to kill the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), there was no consoling the White House for a decisive loss today. The Senate voted 97-1 to override President Obama’s veto of JASTA, and the House quickly followed suit, albeit in a slightly closer vote.
JASTA would allow 9/11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in supporting the attackers in the lead-up to the attacks. President Obama has repeatedly claimed this would be hugely dangerous, and open the US up to major lawsuits for its own assorted misdeeds abroad.
They’re not changing their tone just because they lost, either, with White House spokesman Josh Earnest terming the override “an abdication” of the Senate’s basic responsibilities to represent the people, and “the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done.”
This marks the first veto of President Obama’s entire presidency to be overriden by Congress, and such a decisive defeat appears particularly embarrassing for the administration. In the Senate, the debate was virtually non-existent on the override, with not a single Democrat willing to give lip-service to sustaining the veto ahead of the vote. Ultimately, only Sen. Harry Reid (D – NV) voted against it.
The continued hysteria after having already lost the vote appears to be of little value, and while Earnest expressed hope voters would punish the Senate for this override, public support for JASTA is actually so strong that the White House initially hoped to defer the veto and override battle until after the November election, in hopes that senators would be more willing to go against the will of their constituents if an election wasn’t looming.